Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A re-post ~ Button lamp!

Because of what is going on with the storm and power outages (not that this will help those people right now, but it might be a good reminder...) I want to re-post about the "Button Lamps."

I just ran across this picture... and wondered if you have ever heard of a "button lamp." Many years ago, we got this idea from one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books called The Long Hard Winter. These are easy and fun to make and if you ever find yourself with no electricity, no candles... nothing to make light with, please remember this! All you need is a small glass dish or saucer, a button - not a plastic button, but one made of shell, glass or wood, a small square of cotton fabric, a piece of string and a match to light it with! The reason you don't use plastic is that if the flame contacts the button, you will have a cloud of toxic and not very nice smelling fumes coming off of it.

Cut your cotton fabric large enough to wrap tightly around the button and use the string or thread to tie it on, leaving the little pointy ends sticking up. Then, put some sort of oil or fat (Ma Ingalls used axel grease I think!) into your dish... don't use very much. You don't want to drown the flame. Put the wrapped button into the fat and get a little bit of it on the "wick" and then light it! This makes a very satisfactory light in an emergency.

One time, many years ago, the power went out. The children got busy making button lamps. We had several of them (more than we needed!) lit and happily giving light to our home, and then of course the power came back on! We were sincerely dissappointed!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stainless Pressure Saucepan

I really love my little stainless steel pressure saucepan.  I know some people think cooking at a higher temperature isn't good.  I have no idea. I have a pressure canner as well, and there is no other way to can low-acid foods, so I'm already there.  I had wished for a stainless pressure saucepan for quite a while, and I thought they were expensive (as I only looked in local stores.)  And then today I saw this listing.  It's not free, but the price is excellent.  They have larger ones, also.  I got mine not long ago at a thrift store for $7.50.  It came with an aluminum rack inside, so I went online and ordered a stainless rack.

I always worried about using the old aluminum one I had, so kind of avoided it mostly.  Now, however, I use this stainless version a LOT.  Tough meats?  No problem!  In a hurry to cook your soaked beans?  Voila!  It saves time, energy, and with some foods improves the results. When/if this one fails, I'll buy another, but I doubt that it will.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Honey-Mustard-Flax Seed Salad Dressing

We never buy salad dressings.  They are expensive and often have scary ingredients.  Plus, salad dressing is one of the easiest things to make!

I've been  making Honey-Mustard dressing for a few years.  This new version, with the addition of flax seed, is even more nutritious, adding omega-3 essential fatty acids.  The flax also gives it more "body".  It's just nicer all around!

Honey/Mustard/Flax Seed Salad Dressing

1 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
6 Tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons flax seed
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until well combined and the seeds are nicely ground up.  Pour into a glass jar, put on a lid and refrigerate.

Nutritious, easy, economical, and delicious!

This post is shared at Traditional Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A collection of 3 tiny tips...

Here are three small things I want to tell you about... 

First, see the chives on this cutting board?

For the first time ever, I have a pot of chives growing in the house.  When they grow kind of tall, I just clip them off, cut them up and add them to soup or salad.  SO easy to grow!

Second, see the "jello?"

I made that with some of the juice leftover from canning the peaches the other day... like this ~

Healthy "Jello"

4 cups pure fruit juice
2 Tablespoons OR 2 little packets Knox gelatin
Cut up fresh fruit, and/or nuts, vegetables (optional)
A tiny amount of stevia to taste (optional)

Put the gelatin in a heat-proof mixing bowl. 

Put 2 cups of the juice in a saucepan and bring it to a boil and pour it over the gelatin.  Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.  Do not be in a hurry.

Add the cold juice. Stir.  By the way, do not be "generous" when measuring the juice.  If you use too much, your "jello" will be too soft.

If you want to use stevia, now is when to add it.  Be careful.  That stuff is incredibly sweet.

After combining all of the juice, pour it into a container that you can refrigerate.  At this time, if you wish, you can add whatever you like... cut up fruit, shredded veggies, chopped nuts, etc.

Refrigerate until set and THEN put on a lid.

Number three tip...

Ugh... when I was heating up the peach juice, it came to a boil and overflowed and by the time I got back to it, the stove-top had a nicely burned-on patch of peach juice.  Next to impossible to scrub off without hurting the porcelain.

Here is what I do.  It is easy and cheap.  I laid some cotton wash cloths on the burned-on patches, carefully saturated them with household ammonia (and holding my breath!) I covered them completely with some plastic shopping bags.  Then I put the grate back on there to hold it all in place (probably not necessary) and let it sit all night.

In the morning, take a deep breath and quickly remove all of that and rinse it out.  Then, take a damp cloth and simply wipe up the dissolved mess!  Voila!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Canning clingstone peaches without sugar... Whew!

My husband and I went to Wal-mart several days ago.  When we walked in the door, I saw a LOT of peaches sitting there in crates, and the sign said 25 cents a pound.  My mouth dropped open, and I asked a nearby associate if they were really 25 cents a pound.  Yep.  She said they had gotten too many in so they marked the price way down to get rid of them.  :-0

So, what did I do?  I bought 100 pounds of peaches.  Yes.  I did.  They were not ripe, so it has taken until today before they were ripe enough and for me to have time to address the situation.  I literally laid awake in bed last night trying to figure out what to do.  See, these peaches are not "freestone."  Often, you can at least twist half of a peach off of the clingstone variety, but in this case, it wasn't working.  One half would just get squashed.  What to do... what to do..  I don't can with sugar anymore, and if you've been following me, you know I have a simple way to can freestone peaches with no sugar.  Look HERE, if you'd like to see that.

1.  How was I going to get enough peach juice to cover the peaches in the jars?

2  How was I going to remove the pits without mushing up the fruit?

After a bit of experimenting, here is what I settled on.  I need to mention that at first I was blanching the peaches for 2 minutes in boiling water, and then attempting to slip off the skins.  It worked with some of them, but the majority had to be peeled with a peeler, so I just went to doing that instead of blanching.  Your peaches might be more amenable to the blanching, so at least give it a try, for if it works, it will save time.

Aren't they beautiful?

 I had 6 boxes full like that. They were stashed in my sewing room, as it is cooler in there.

I used a regular vegetable peeler to take off the skins, then I used this nice  mango splitter to take out the pits.

 How to get enough juice?  I put all of the pit parts as well as the peelings into my steam juicer, plus a few cut up whole peaches so there would be enough.
Here is one, split:

Here it is all ready to steam juice:
 Oh, yes, my kitty stuck around to make sure I did it right. 
The little sticker labels had to come off, of course.
 Here are those scraps and cut up peaches after steam juicing,
 and here is some of the juice:
After taking out the pit parts, I cut them up and filled the jars, then covered the peaches with the peach juice!
 Then they went into the steam canner and were processed for 30 minutes after they got up to temperature.  Of course, a water bath canner will work fine.
 Here are some of them, completed and cooling.

I canned 27 quarts today.  It took all day, almost.  Next time, though, it will be much faster, as I'll already have the method figured out.  I hope this will help someone else with the same dilemma.  :)

Oh... I forgot to mention, when you get done with this project, you have to mop the sticky floor.  Really.

This post is linked to Traditional Tuesday #24
and to Simple Lives Thursday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

No Recipe Soup Recipe... ?

There is only one kind of soup that I actually use a recipe for.  That is my tomato soup.  I make a lot of soups... vegetable with various meats, bean or other legume soups... but all of those I just bring together from what I have on hand.  Today I will show you an example, mostly through pictures.  If you are not used to this kind of cooking, don't pay attention so much to the ingredients, but rather, to the method.  Then, go see what you have on hand that you can use in a lovely homemade soup!

A bunch of chopped onions:

 1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melting in the 2-gallon soup pot:
 Sauteing the onions until tender:
 Some home-canned things... left to right: chicken breast, sweet corn, chicken feet stock, chicken stock, green beans:
 2 huge cloves of garlic ~
 ~ minced and added to the pot when the onions were tender, then I sauteed it for about 30 seconds more and started adding the other ingredients.  First, I added the jars of stock, then the corn, and the green beans which I drained.
 Next came a quart of frozen, peeled, tomatoes:
 Scrubbed, diced and added a large potato:
 I had about 3 cups of leftover, cooked, pinto beans.  They went into the pot next:
 Then I thought, "I want to put some greens in there," so I went out to the hoop house and...
 picked some of that Swiss chard that I had transplanted from outside.
 Here is what I picked:
 I washed it and cut off the larger stalk pieces and chopped it all up.
 The vegetables are tender in there now, so..
 it's time to add the greens.  I did that and let it simmer for another 15 minutes:
 To that, I added 2 teaspoons sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and some ground poultry seasoning (maybe 1/2 teaspoon.)  Next, I drained the canned chicken breast and cut it up.  I added it last, so it wouldn't overcook.
 Then I only heated it long enough to get the chicken warmed up nicely.  Here it is!  This made about 1 gallon of soup.  Half went into the fridge in a 1/2 gallon jar, and the other half I froze for later.
It tastes really nice.  Now, go look in your fridge, your pantry and your garden and see what kind of soup you can invent!  It's a wonderful skill to have.

This post is linked up to the Clever Chicks Blog Hop #4 

& Simple Lives Thursday #126

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Remember the green tomatoes?

12 days before I wrote this post, I brought in all of our green tomatoes.  They have been ripening alarmingly fast and we have bravely eaten as many as is reasonable, but I didn't want them to go to waste.  So, I blanched them in boiling water, slipped off the skins and stuffed them into freezer bags.  Here they are all ready to go into the bags.  As you can readily see, they are not quite the quality of those picked ripe from the vine, but they will still be wonderful in soup.

Here they are in the bags!

And here is all that is left.  I was hoping they would last longer so we'd have some for the holidays, but it's not to be this year.

Definitely worth doing.  :)

Do you like persimmons?

About 12 years ago, a friend gave us some seeds from his persimmon trees.  Persimmons are native to Indiana (where we live) and require no spraying.  They don't have any pests.  You can buy huge persimmons in some grocery stores, but the ones that grow here naturally are different.  This particular variety makes nice big fruit, as you can see from the picture.  Our first persimmon fruit appeared 2 years ago.  Now the trees (3) have "several" fruits and I go out every day and shake the trees to see if any ripe ones will fall off.  You must never "pick" persimmons.  They will be extremely bitter!  Wait until they fall off the tree.

My point?  I am carefully saving all of the seeds from our persimmons and will be offering them to you, free for an SASE, just like I did with the garlic seeds.  I will send you 4 seeds (as long as they last.)  If you get some, take them out and plant them in a little nursery row in a nice, fertile location.  After a couple of years, then transplant them to their permanent location.  It is easy to do.  Just keep them nicely mulched and fed.  That is how we started ours.
These persimmons are incredibly sweet.  I just eat them out of hand.  Oh, YUM.  :D

This post is linked to Fantabulous Friday #35

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October in the Hoop House...

Another good day... I went out to the hoop house and pulled out all the tiny little weeds, watered, and had to replant a few things.  That's what I get for taking a chance on old seed.  From now on, I think I'll just go ahead and buy new seeds each year.  This has set me back, on some things, a whole month.  Not worth it!
 Here are the little green onions coming up from those onion sets I had saved back in the Spring:
 Baby Kale... most of which did not sprout, so I filled in the row with new seeds.  I buy some seeds locally and the ones I can't find here, I get from www.shumwayseeds.com  ~ they have the best prices I've found so far, and I've always been happy with their seeds.
 See the cute little radishes?
 Two happy rows of "Spicy Greens Mix" :
 Turnips.  They are laying over a bit because I had just watered them.
 On the advice of a friend, I brought the Swiss chard plants from outside and transplanted them into the hoop house bed!  They don't look like much now, but I had already taken the old plants out of here and I think this will be a good thing.
 Not much to look at here... just the bed where I planted a new crop of Mache (corn salad.)  Mache is extremely winter hardy and a wonderful and versatile green.  Mild tasting, good in salads, soups, sandwiches and stir-fries.  I always just "broadcast" my mache seeds instead of planting in rows.
 At the end of this hanging shelf, you can see my tray of wheat grass.  I've already cut it once, and will get one more cutting out of it.  I don't have a wheat grass juicer, so I just cut it up and put it in the Vita-mix blender with a little water, and then strain the nice green liquid out.  I freeze it in ice cube trays and use it in breakfast smoothies.
 Bunched up over on that bench is the floating row cover that I'll use when the weather gets really cold...
 and it will be supported by these wire wickets:
 A baby Swiss chard plant that actually did sprout!
 and a closer look at one of the transplanted "Bright Lights" Swiss chard plants.  I love that variety.  It is delicious, but I also enjoy the variety of colors it presents.

One more thing I did today in the garden.  I prepared a bed for, and planted this year's garlic.  Here are the little furrows with 26 cloves and then farther down the row, 30 seeds.  By the way, I still have some seeds if any of you have not gotten your free seeds from me yet.  It is not too late to plant.
After planting the garlic cloves and seeds, I covered them with soil, put on a little compost and mulched lightly with some spoiled hay:
It's a little sad to me that most of my gardening is done for the year.  I'll need to keep the hoop house bed watered for a while, until it gets colder, and we do still need to do some cleaning up and tilling, but mostly, it's done.  I'll just tend the bit in the hoop house, and I hope everything I planted today will still come up.

This post is linked up to Simple Lives Thursday #117

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...