Monday, December 26, 2016

Instant Pot - Electric Pressure Cooker - Pressure Cooking chapter 11

If you follow my blog, you may remember that I put up several posts about pressure cooking.  I have been pressure cooking for over 40 years.  Just this month, I purchased an "Instant Pot" when they went on sale at  Oh my!  This is lovely!  It does the same thing as my pressure saucepan, but makes it so much easier.  I don't have to watch it.  It keeps food warm for up to 10 hours.  You can even make yogurt in it.

I was so taken with it, that I waited for the next sale, used a coupon I had and got a second one very cheaply.  In this picture that my husband took 2 days before Christmas, I'm cooking beef bone stock in one of them, and some chili in the other.  I feel very spoiled. (That's because I am.)

If you have ever considered getting an electric pressure cooker, there are other less expensive models out there, but this one has a fine quality stainless steel pot in it, and will never wear out like non-stick surfaces can.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A little more weaving...

Once a month, I attend a very special hand-spinning group.  I had purchased some alpaca fiber from the friend who hosts our group and decided I wanted to make a little something for each of the women there.  So....  I spun some nice soft two-ply yarn and wove a little bookmark for each of them.  I happened to have some of my weaving labels left, so sewed one on the back of each.  Just a little remembrance.  I am the oldest person in the group, so maybe this will be something for them to remember me by.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I try not to waste food...

I've talked to you before about making "Leftover Soup."  This morning, looking through the contents of our refrigerator, I found the following that needed to be used up:

1. One bowl of chili
2. A smallish amount of homemade pizza sauce
3. Some leftover green beans that I had frozen
4. A good handful of foraged oyster mushrooms
5. One-fourth of a can of evaporated milk
6. One-half cup of sweet peas

First, I chopped the oyster mushrooms and sauteed them in butter.  Then, I thawed out some frozen chicken stock.

I combined all of the above plus "enough" chicken stock in a saucepan and brought it to a simmer and simmered it for a few minutes. The rest of the stock went back into the freezer.  That way, if anything is getting close to being too old, it will still be safe to eat for about a week.

Next I put it all in my blender and pureed it.

So...  please say hello to "Cream of Leftovers Soup!"

By the way, it is absolutely delicious.

Next time you have bits of various things that no one is eating, give it a try!  I ended up with about 5 cups of yummy soup. It would freeze well, too.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A little weaving...

I have a 24-inch Kromski rigid-heddle loom.  A friend gave me a sheep's fleece, so I cleaned and washed some of it and spun one skein of walnut colored woolen yarn (that I dyed with black walnut leaves) and one skein of white..  Here is the walnut colored yarn drying.

I decided to weave a scarf on my little loom.  I learned some things, and will do better next time, but I am very pleased with the hounds tooth pattern.  :)

Isn't that pretty?  It is for a birthday gift.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving dinner...

Un-stuffed stuffing...

This is a re-post that might help you get thinking about your Holiday meals!

I realize that Thanksgiving is a few weeks from now (Except I think maybe Canada had theirs yesterday?).  I want to show you this and tell you how I do "stuffing".  After all, Christmas is not long from now (gasp!) and it might be helpful.

I have never used a recipe for stuffing and I don't actually stuff the poultry anymore.  "They" have scared me off with all the warnings about possible salmonella exposure, so now I roast the bird and bake the stuffing separately.

Here is a list of what I use:

Stale homemade bread (of course you an use purchased bread as well!)

Homemade poultry broth or stock

Chopped onion

Chopped celery


Salt and pepper

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (whole, dried and rubbed until small)

A small amount of ground poultry seasoning (be careful with this.  It is very strong.)

1.  Slice the bread, as much as you like (for 12 people I use 2 loaves) and lay it out in trays to get stale and dry out some.  You don't want it to be hard, just dried up a bit.

2.  Break the bread into small pieces into a large bowl.  Add celery and onion, as much as you like.  For this amount I would use 2 medium onions and about 5 celery ribs.

3.  For this amount, I pour on 1 cup of melted butter and enough broth to make it moist, not soggy.

4.  I never measure the seasonings.  I just put on "some" and keep tasting until I like the flavor.  Do the salt first and then start adding bits of the other things, the parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and black pepper.  When that tastes nice to you, sprinkle on a little bit of ground poultry seasoning and stir it all well.

5.  Taste it a few times and pay attention.  You will know when it tastes right.

6.  Pack it all into an oven-proof covered dish and bake at 350 for about an hour.

7.  When it is time for your big dinner, reheat in the oven, just until warm.  Serve with gravy that you make from the drippings from your roasted bird, as follows...

Remove the bird from the oven and use your baster to take out the pan drippings. If you don't have a baster, with a little help, pour the drippings out. Put them all in a saucepan. Add enough of the aforementioned broth to make the amount of gravy you would like to have. You will have to gauge the amount of thickening by how much liquid you are now using. For 1 cup of liquid, use 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or 2 Tablespoons of unbleached flour mixed in a little warm water. When it all comes to a boil, then slowly add the thickening, stirring carefully to prevent lumping. Add any little bits of meat from the neck and dice the giblets too if you like. Simmer until thick, then taste it and see if it needs anything else, like a little more salt or pepper, but it probably won't.

Leftover stuffing can be frozen and reheated for future meals.  I like to make what I call "Thanksgiving pie."  Cut up some of the leftover turkey, mix it with some leftover stuffing, pack it into a pie plate and pour gravy over it all, then top with mashed potatoes and bake at 350 until the potatoes start to brown a little bit.  We love this!

I have even filled some pie plates, as above, without the potatoes, and wrapped them snugly and frozen them for later use.  All you have to do is add the potatoes and bake.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Glass Gem Corn...

A man on Facebook sent me 5 Glass Gem Corn seeds last winter.  In May I planted them in a circle in the garden.   Since there were so few seeds, sometimes if you plant them that way, you still get decent pollination.  It worked!  I picked 13 ears of corn this afternoon.  This is a kind of popcorn, and can be ground for cornmeal as well.  I am going to hang it up and let it dry thoroughly before I try to pop or grind it.  It's so pretty!  I've looked at other pictures of the Glass Gem Corn online and they are even prettier!  By the way, there really was no insect damage to these, whereas my sweet corn had many corn ear worms this year.  The plants are very tall, and since I only had 5 seeds and got 13 ears, obviously they are quite prolific. It is an open-pollinated variety.  Here is a picture of my little harvest:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What to do with extra sourdough....

I don't wash out the jar I keep my sourdough starter in very often, but eventually, it becomes somewhat crunchy looking.  Here is what I like to do when I have extra sourdough starter.  I poured off the "hootch" that was in the jar (the dark liquid that accumulates after I neglect it for several days) and then dumped the remainder into a bowl.  After carefully washing the jar and lid, I added some water to it, because it was now too thick, and stirred that in and then took 1/3 cup of that and returned it to the clean jar.  Next, I added 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and about 1/3 cup water and stirred that altogether in the jar, put on the lid and returned it to the refrigerator.

What was left in the bowl was about 1.5 cups of leftover sourdough starter.  To that, I added:

1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
about 2 teaspoons of honey
2 Tablespoons melted butter

Then I stirred it all well.  In the meantime, I had my Belgian waffle-maker heating up.  When it was up to temperature, I baked the waffles by adding 1/2 cup of the batter each time.  On my iron, the device is heated enough when the light on the top goes out.  After adding the batter, the light will come back on and then turn off again when the waffle is done and I remove it and start another one.

Of course, this could also be made into pancakes!

These waffles are delicious and it is a good way NOT to waste that extra sourdough starter.

I serve them with butter and real maple syrup.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Blogger is changing things soon.  If I want to link something to my blog posts, I will have to type in the whole web address.  :(  Anyway... just thought I'd mention it in case you have a favorite link on here, you might want to save it.

Here is Bloggers message.

By September 29, 2016, the Search Box gadget on this blog will only present search results from this blog. Search results from pages linked in your posts, from the Web or from the Blog List and Link List gadgets will not be presented anymore.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Dehydrating - Chapter 2

We bought a Food Saver and the jar sealer accessories and today I sealed all the jars of dehydrated foods that I've been able to put up this year.  Until I got it all organized, I had no idea how much there is and I'm very grateful!  Can you imagine how much this would be if the foods had not been dried?  A Lot.  It covers the bottom shelf in this cupboard and there are 3 rows of jars on the second shelf.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A brand new grandson!

Our youngest son and his sweet wife are the parents of a new baby boy, born yesterday evening.  I am beyond thrilled!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Winter is coming! Replacing a zipper in a coat or jacket...

I originally posted this nearly 4 years ago.  Today is September 1st, so I am thinking now would be the time to replace zippers in any coats or jackets that need it, before the snow flies!

Here you can see a perfectly good jacket. The problem is, the zipper is broken! Replacing a zipper is really not difficult, but it is tedious and takes considerable time. If your coat/jacket is nice, and/or you love it, it is more than worth the trouble to replace the zipper.

Here is the zipper I ordered over the internet here. This company is wonderful. They have everything and excellent customer service!

A closer look at the invoice:

The zipper I purchased cost $6.03 including the shipping, and so for a nice coat, you can see that this would really be worthwhile.

Now, don't be afraid. Breath. Relax. Here we go.

FIRST ~ set your sewing machine to its longest stitch length. Sew a line of stitching along the jacket opening, far enough in from the edge that you do NOT catch in the existing zipper. This is to hold everything together nicely and make the reassembly easier. Do this on both sides of the jacket.

Here I am doing the same thing on the other side:

SECOND ~ take your little seam ripper and do (carefully and don't stab yourself) whatever it takes to remove the broken zipper:

Here I've gone a little farther in the process:

Here I am removing some stitching from the surface:

And here is what it looks like with the zipper removed. Now you will see the wisdom of doing that basting line of stitches so the jacket doesn't blow up and get all weird.

THIRD ~ carefully remove all the bits of loose thread:

FOURTH ~ Thread a sturdy hand sewing needle with a doubled thread and run it through some beeswax so it will be less likely to tangle while you are sewing. Rosin will work instead of the beeswax, too, or if you have neither, find a piece of candle or even hand soap to use!

FIFTH ~ I hope you took the time to observe how the old zipper was positioned. You are going to unzip the new zipper, and one side at a time, you will put the new zipper in, and pin it in place and then hand baste it in place:

See? Here is one side basted together:

And here is the other side:

Oh, yes, and it is very helpful to have a fuzzy cat walking around under your work table at this point:

SIXTH ~ Before you sew the zipper in with your machine, zip up the jacket to make sure it is going to work!

SEVENTH ~ Now, simply, using a normal stitch length, sew along the same line where the old zipper was sewn in like this:

Make sure to replace any seams or stitching you have removed:

Be sure to remove any basting stitches. On this one, there was the nice little tab on the old zipper, so I just transferred it to the new one:

That's all you need to do! Even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, it is better than throwing away a perfectly good coat.

Please feel free to ask questions if I can help.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pageviews all time history 500,322

I have to say, I am humbled this morning as I have discovered this blog has topped half a million page views since I started it in December of 2009.  I had NO idea how fun this would be and how many people I would be able to help out with simple recipes and ideas.  THANK YOU - all of you - my "Gentle Readers."

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dehydrating to save space...

Since we are now in a considerably smaller house, and my food storage space is much reduced, I've been doing a lot more dehydrating this year.  I've canned a few things, But now all of that space is filled.  Here is the shelf where I have the things I've dehydrated.

It is so convenient to make soup in a pressure saucepan, and I really enjoy having these items to use.  It only takes 10 minutes, at pressure, for the soup to be ready and as good as if I had simmered it all day.

I think these are the things I have done: green beans, sweet corn, diced potatoes, kale powder, tomatoes, tomato powder, small yellow tomatoes, summer squash, celery, cucumbers, green tomato slices, oyster mushrooms and okra.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A view from my kitchen...

There is a lot going on in the kitchen these days...

     On the kitchen island this morning, I can see...

          A bucket of brined dills, a bucket of 14 - day sweet pickles, jars of dehydrated vegetables,

               jars of garlic seeds, canned tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, sweet corn...

                    Right in the middle is a jar with a little bit of sauerkraut.  A friend gave me a small cabbage from her garden, so I made kraut for her and will take it to her this afternoon.  :)

I love this time of year.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Re-post - Preserving Fresh Basil!

I would like to remind you that if you still have fresh basil, you can very easily save it to use all winter long!  Here is a post I did a few years ago about that:

How to Preserve fresh Genovese Basil

I have never tried companion planting before. I grew my own Genovese basil transplants this year and so had quite a few and decided to plant them next to tomato plants, as I had heard that is a good combination. It must be. I've never had such glorious basil before! The basil is on the left next to the tomato plant.

I went out this afternoon and cut a basketful of the fresh basil.

Then I removed the leaves from the stems, washed them well and gave them a few spins in the salad spinner.

Next I chopped them in the food processor and put them into a quart jar.

Finally, I covered them with raw apple cider vinegar and put a lid on the jar.

If my house was cooler, I'd just let it sit in a cupboard, but the house gets pretty hot this time of year, so I will store it in the refrigerator. When I want basil for cooking (pesto, spaghetti sauce, pizza, soup, roast, chicken.. etc.) I can just retrieve what I need and it will be like having fresh basil all year!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dehydrating Kale - Kale Powder!

This is a pint (2 cup) jar.  There you can see some dehydrated powdered kale that I made today.  This was made from 15 large kale leaves!  

I will add this to soups and smoothies through the winter when the fresh kale is not available.

Here is how I do it.

1. Pick the Kale
2. Wash the Kale in cold water and drain.
3. Remove the tough center ribs.
4. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
5. Immerse the Kale for only 15 seconds.
6. Drain in colander.
7. Plunge into ice water and stir until the heat is out of the leaves.
8. Drain and run it through a salad spinner or pat dry on clean towels.
9. Arrange on dehydrator trays, only one layer deep.
10. Set temperature at 135 degrees F.
11.  After 2 hours, check it.  It could take as long as 3.  It should be completely dry and crisp.
12.  At this point you can just pack it into a jar with an air-tight lid, OR, you can powder it in a food processor or blender, and then store it in a jar, out of the light.  

This will keep nicely for a long time.  It actually tastes nice and slightly sweet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tiny Tip - working stretching into my day...

I am 67 years old now.  When I was about 50, I started having trouble with knee pain.  So... I decided that every time I need to get in a bottom drawer, pick up something off the floor or reach into a bottom cupboard, I would squat all the way down.  Before long, that cured my knee trouble and I am still doing that.

Fast forward to last year when we moved into our trailer.  This little house is  considerably smaller than the old house we lived in, and before long I noticed that I need to work a little harder to get enough exercise.  To the squatting routine, I've added something else.  When I need to bend and reach, I always bend and reach "harder" than I would need to, in order to complete the task.  When I bend over at the waist to blow dry my hair, I bed way down so it stretches the back of my legs.  It is kind of hard to describe, but I think you probably get the idea.

It's a small change, but has made a world of difference in my flexibility.  Along with that, instead of walking on the road for exercise, most of the time I walk in the woods.  It is uneven ground and up and down hills.  That has improved my balance.  After falling 3 times in two days, I decided it was time to do something about it.

It's amazing to me how working these small changes into my routine has improved my health.  These things don't take any longer.  Please think about what you could do similar.  You will probably be happy with the results!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sauerkraut 2016 - I had help!

Our granddaughter is visiting us and today, she helped me make this year's sauerkraut!  She picked the cabbages and while I was cleaning them, she shredded them all in the food processor.  Then she swept the floor.  She loves to cook and enjoyed it.

If you are new to my blog, you can find the recipe for sauerkraut HERE.  Today's batch was 6 pounds.  I have a big jar full left from last year and it is still delicious and nicely crisp.  Kraut lasts a LONG time in cold storage. Here is the jar from last year.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Garden - June 2016

Because we had so much rain last year, my garden was horrible.  I worked SO hard on it, and it was beautiful and everything came up gloriously, and then the rain started.  It rained and rained and rained.  When I picked vegetables, I went barefooted and walked in mud up to my ankles.

You can't hoe mud, you know.  The weeds flourished.  They completely took over.  It was the worst I've ever seen and it broke my heart.  "I am too old for this," I kept thinking.  So much effort (and food) was wasted.  Not. Good.

So... I decided to go to a permanent mulch system, like Ruth Stout described in her wonderful books.  I also cut the area I am planting in half and gave half of that half to my Garden Fairy to use, so I am only gardening in 1/4th the area I have had for the last several years.  I've covered it all with lots of hay and will continue to add mulch as I can get it.  I am hoping for some wood chips at some point.

This spring has been very wet and the garden is still soggy...  I don't really expect to have a stellar year this year, but I will fool around out there and try my best to grow some food.  Well, I already have food... we've eaten Nappa cabbage, chives, basil, parsley, asparagus and radishes.  The thornless red raspberries are looking promising.  The tomatoes nearly died, but are coming back.  Some of the peppers died and my GF replanted for me.  The corn is up.  Some of the winter and summer squashes are up.  I have a few carrots up and looking very happy.  There is lots of volunteer garlic!

See this?  It is some volunteer mullein in my small herb patch.  When mullein is well fed and has plenty of sunlight, it can get quite spectacular!  The leaves are good for dyeing wool, and the blossoms have medicinal properties.

A closer look at the  mullein flower stalk.


Comfrey patch

Red raspberries

"Herb Patch"

Pole bean teepees

Potato patch

The corn is emerging!

In the middle, here, you can see my Egyptian onions

And here is a close up of the little bulb-lets they make

I discovered something new today.  If you like the taste of onions (I do if they are not too strong) you can pick these little bulb-lets and...

... bite carefully and the insides will come out and you can eat it!  Right there in the garden.  It was a delightful treat!

A pretty cabbage!

Tomato cages.  The tomato plants are barely hanging on.

View across part of our garden plots.

Volunteer garlic where the trellis fence used to be


Sugar Snap Peas

Baby carrots!

Pepper plants that my GF put in for me.  :)

Some very happy dandelion growing with the comfrey.  I will use this to make noodles.

See that feathery stuff over there?  That is the asparagus.  My GF and I dug that up near a railroad track 2 years ago and transplanted it into our garden.   

So... that is where we are today.  I replanted some things this morning - more carrots, sugar pie pumpkins, winter squash, pole beans, and some green bush beans.  I will report back as time goes on.

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