Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pickled jalepeno peppers!

2 pounds of Jalepeno peppers from our garden:

Wash them, and then pack them tightly into wide-mouth pint jars.  I ended up with 5 full jars. To each jar, add 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon mixed pickling spice, 1/4 cup water and then fill the jar with white vinegar to within 1/2 inch of the top.  Wipe rims.  Put on the heated caps.  Adjust the rings.  Process in a boiling water bath or steam canner for 15 minutes.

5 Jars of Pickled Peppers!  :)

Teaching children the joy of work and provident living...

 I don't want to wax political here... and really this isn't.  I find it troubling, though, that so many children that I see are growing up being deprived of the blessing of learning to work and to work well.  So many adults I know seem to have missed the lessons of the joy and satisfaction that comes from hard work.  I was talking to a friend recently who would like to be healthy and fit, and yet she told me she doesn't want to take the time to cook healthy foods.  I know people who are dear to me who would like to be financially independent and be able to prosper, and yet they can't bring themselves to discipline themselves in money management.  Rather than being frugal and wise with the resources they have, they fail to plan and carry through on their plan, and so, in a way, they are planning to fail. 

If you, too, are concerned about this trend, and especially if you are raising children, please take time to watch this wonderful talk that so clearly explains these issues and what to do and not do so that your life and the lives of those you love can be better.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Canning tomato juice...

Here are the tomatoes I brought in yesterday.  There are lots of grape tomatoes, some paste tomatoes and a few Celebrity tomatoes.  So, I decided to use them to make tomato juice.

I put them through my Champion juicer, and it half-filled this 2 gallon pot.  When I use the Champion, I put the seeds/skins/pulp back through 2 more times, just to get out the last bit of juice.  That sounds tedious, but it is quick and easy.
When the juice came to a boil, I turned off the heat and using a slotted spoon, skimmed off the foam.

Then I filled the jars and placed them in the steam canner and processed them.

Here is what was left over and I added a little Realsalt to that and drank it warm.  Oh, deliciousness!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Do your arms get itchy when you pick things in the garden?

Last week, there was a day when I did a LOT of garden picking.  Green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and few other things.  By the time I got done, the skin on my arms was "ripped to shreds."  Not really, but it was very scratched up, itchy and had lots of ugly red marks.  Does that ever happen to you?  I whined to my friend, and she said that what she does is cut the toes out of an old pair of socks, and puts the socks over her arms.  Pure genius!  So, I did that today.  I robbed my husband's sock drawer.  I did inform him of my thievery. I cut off the toes, and put the socks over my arms and even positioned the heels where my elbows are.  Voila!  It worked perfectly!  You might wonder why I don't just put on a long-sleeved shirt.  The reason is, as odd as it might seem, this is much cooler and more comfortable.

So now you know.  :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sauerkraut and Armenian cucumbers!

Making sauerkraut is so easy, it's embarrassing.  If you've never done it, and you would like to make your own, please do not be afraid, Gentle Reader.  Go out and purchase a Fido Jar.  You could purchase a Pikl-It jar, but they are a lot more costly, and the Fido works just as well.  In one of the pictures here you will see the big Pikl-It I am using and a smaller Fido.  If I had to do it over, I'd just buy Fido jars.  The one I have I bought at a thrift store for a song!

That picture of me up there is right after I went out and harvested the rest of our little cabbages.  It took all of 2 minutes to do that.  I have used some of the cabbages already, but these were left, and the slugs are taking an interest, so it was time to get them out of harm's way.

I weighed them.  There was approximately 5 pounds, after I shredded them in the food processor. Take out the cores first. You can also use a sharp knife and cut shreds as small as possible, but the food processor is like having a magic wand.  Truly.

Here is the cabbage, after being shredded:

For the 5 pounds of shredded cabbage, I sprinkled on 3 Tablespoons of sea salt.  (If you have a choice, don't use "table salt", but if you don't, just use it!)  I sort of mixed it in and then let it sit for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, here is what it looked like:

Then I just squished it vigorously with my hands until it was nice and juicy, then I packed it into the two jars.  You don't want to fill them up all the way to the top, as the sauerkraut will "heave" when it starts fermenting.

I will be able to tell when it is "done," as you can easily see when the fermentation is complete and everything settles down.  You can also do a taste test.  When it tastes right, it is! Then, pack your kraut into another glass jar and cover it well.  Store in the refrigerator.

Now, on to my next surprise!  Have you ever heard of "Armenian cucumbers?"  I never did until this year.  I read online that they are actually a variety of musk melon.  But you pick them while young and they are really really nice cucumbers.  No need to peel them.  Pick them before they start to form seeds and use them just like any other cucumber.  I love them!  They are interesting and beautiful, as well as deliciousl

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Windfall apples - sauce...

We have two apple trees that I planted about 18 years ago.  I was told they are "Transparent" apples, but I really don't know.  I have never sprayed them, and I've only done serious pruning one time.  I do need to do that again this coming winter. 

I took out a basket yesterday and picked up nearly half a bushel of apples from the ground.  I think this is the best crop we've had so far.  Obviously, since I do not spray, they have lots of damage, but they weren't too bad at all!  So, I washed them and then cut out the buggy bits and bruises from falling.

Here they are in my 22 quart stock pot.  I added a quart of home-canned pear juice so I could cook them without scorching.  Water would have been fine.

After cooking on the lowest temperature that my stove can deliver and occasional stirring, this is what they looked like.

Next they took a whirl in our Foley Food Mill  which is worth it's weight in gold.  I got my first one about 1978.  Mine is not stainless steel like the one in the link, but it's still working very well.  My understanding is that during WWII, the Foley Food Mill was one of the few items the government allowed to be re-tinned, because it could save so much food. 

And here you can see all that was left in the food mill from ALL of those apples!

I ended up with this much in the 2 - gallon soup pot:

Here is the applesauce processed in pint jars.  I ate some first. 

I am very pleased.  It has been a good gardening year so far... nice temperatures and plenty of rain.  I think the apple trees are quite happy also.  I've always wondered, since I don't spray if we would ever get much out of them.  This year, the answer is yes!  I am hoping for more.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Spanish Musica pole beans...

Thanks to Wardeh from Gnowfglins, a couple of years ago I started growing  Spanish Musica pole beans.   I love these beans!  They are extremely productive.  I have just 4 bean towers devoted to them, and today, at the first picking, I have enough beans to can about 25 quarts.  Amazing!  They never get stringy, no matter how big they are.  They taste so nice and will continue to produce for a long time yet.  I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of sharing this year.  They can also be used as a shell-out bean, and I save my own seed now, as this is an heirloom variety.  Here are a few picture so you can see what they are like in my garden.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lasagna without pasta!

We don't eat pasta anymore, as I don't believe it is a healthy food.  But I ADORE my homemade spaghetti sauce, so thanks to an idea I got from a friend recently, I made this lasagna.

Lasagna Without Pasta

1 # ground meat.  I used venison, but I am sure others would work as well.
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tablespoons bacon grease (or lard, butter or coconut oil)
1 quart canned tomatoes, drained
1 small can tomato paste
1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste


1/2 # grated cheese of your choice.  I used homemade farmhouse cheddar
1/2 # cottage cheese
grated Parmesan to serve with the lasagna, if desired 


Cabbage leaves, steamed 15 minutes and then rinsed in cold water (I can't tell you how many)
1 medium zucchini  squash, sliced with a julienne peeler (see below)  Do not slice beyond where the seeds grow.  Just use the outside parts.

Melt bacon grease in a heavy frying pan, add the onion and saute until partially cooked.
Add the meat, and chop it up and cook it until it is all browned.
Add  the drained tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian Seasoning and salt.  Simmer, stirring often while you prepare the vegetables and grate the cheese.

I use a julienne peeler to prepare my zucchini and then saute it for a little while in some olive oil.  Here is the peeler:

And here is the zucchini after being sauteed.  I can't tell you how long to cook it.  Do it on medium/low heat, and stir a lot until it gets kind of limp:

Then, in a 9 inch square glass baking pan, which has been well buttered, place the steamed cabbage leaves, about 2 deep.  Add 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/3 of the cottage cheese.  Then, spread out the zucchini.  Then as before, the sauce, cheese and cottage cheese.  The last layer will be more cabbage, sauce cottage cheese and cheese.  

You will need to gauge how much of everything so as to not overflow the dish.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Allow to set for 15 minutes before serving.  There will be some juice, but not a lot.

You can sprinkle on Parmesan if you wish.

Very yummy and even my husband likes it!  :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Today's harvest...

I love this time of year...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Canning peaches with no sugar and conquering fruit flies...

If you are currently, or will soon be canning peaches, please check out my previous posts about doing it without sugar.  These have been VERY popular.

1.  Canning peaches is easy! (no sugar)

2. Sugar-free home canned peaches

3. Canning cling stone peaches without sugar - whew!

Here are some that I canned 2 days ago.  I stopped into Walmart to pick up one small item, and they had these lovely, freestone, fully ripe peaches for 50 cents a pound!  I bought 60 pounds, went home and canned most of them.  It was not what I was planning to do that day, but at that price, I couldn't afford NOT to get them!

Where we live, fruit flies are always a problem this time of year.  I keep a bucket for compost on the kitchen counter, and even though I empty and wash it often, opening it reminds me of Pandora's box!  Here is a way to "win" the battle with fruit flies!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The most wonderful soap dish in the world!!!

I don't buy liquid hand soap.  I did for a while, but since I make soap, it just seemed silly and wasteful.  So, I've been on the lookout for a good soap dish that Really Works for decades.  At last, I have found it!  Remember not long ago I posted about my Stainless Steel dish drainer?  The same company, "Rolling Acres Housewares," has this fabulous soap dish in their catalog.

Here it is on my kitchen sink.

It is made from heavy, smooth plastic.  Super-easy to clean. Drains away all of the water immediately.  Saves the soap!  I have tried several different soap dishes through the years, and none of them really worked.  This does.

I ordered two.  I am very very happy.

Here is the other one, in the bathroom.

Highly recommended! Check out that other post if you would like to get a catalog from Rolling Acres Housewares.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Eggplant for breakfast...

I spent a little time picking things for a salad in the vegetable garden yesterday.  AND, I found two sweet little eggplant (s)!!  I texted my daughter and asked her if she thought eggplant would be good in a salad.  No, we decided. Cut up, they oxidize quickly and turn an ugly, mottled brown.  Ewww... but since they were shiny and ready to pick, I picked them.  She suggested I fry them in butter with onion and salt and pepper. 

 So, that's what I did.  I thinly sliced 1/2 of a medium onion, peeled an eggplant and cut it into thin little quarter-slices, sauteed all of it in a couple Tablespoons of butter (eggplant will absorb a lot of fat) until it was getting a little brown.  Then I added Realsalt and freshly ground black pepper.

Then I ate it for breakfast!  You can also see my glass of goat milk and a small glass of milk kefir there.

Ahhh...  Perfect!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stainless Steel Drain Board!!!

Finally!  At last I found a source for a Stainless Steel dish drainer board.  I LOVE this thing.  If you are a hand dish washer, like me, you know how it is... no matter how hard you try to keep your dish drainer board clean and nice... well, it just doesn't really work very well.  I have washed, and scoured, and poured boiling water, and it still ends us looking icky.


I bought this item from:

Rolling Acres Housewares
31640 State Road 643
Fresno, OH  43824

They do not have an email address, telephone number or a website.  If you would like to get one of their catalogs, just write to them and enclose a check or cash in the amount of $3.  It's a wonderful catalog full of all kinds of things: sturdy egg beaters, kitchen equipment and dishes, aprons, ice cream freezers, canning supplies and other hard to find items.  I buy canning lids, in bulk, from them at a considerable savings.  Their customer service is excellent and they even sent a refund on some of the money I sent them for shipping!  I highly recommend this company.

And, I am thrilled with the stainless drain board.  I don't have an automatic dishwasher, but I can honestly say, I would rather have this drain board.  It may sound silly, but it's true.
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