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Ask Jackie headline

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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
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Archive for October, 2013

Jackie Clay

Q and A: baking sourdough bread and pickled peppers

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Baking sourdough bread

I have your Pantry Cookbook and am baking the Sourdough bread on page 128 using the Sourdough Starter II from page 127. So far all is wonderful. My question is that in the bread recipe itself, you indicate kneading the dough, forming a loaf, and then baking immediately. Is there a rise step missing or doesn’t it need it?

Gretchen Falkenburg
Cochranton, Pennsylvania

While this bread can be baked immediately, it’s better if the loaf is rested and let rise about an hour for a lighter bread. I should have made this notation. Sorry. — Jackie

Pickled peppers

Have you dill pickled peppers? We grew the small red, yellow and orange sweet peppers this year and had so many. I was making dill pickles and thought I’d try some sauce over the peppers. They are so good! I use Mrs. Wages powdered mix. It is very good, regular dill and kosher with garlic, and makes making pickles so much faster and easier. I also made a sweet pickle sauce and cut up hot peppers into the sauce. That is really good too. You get that combination of sweet with a zap! We’ve been using the sauce, which gets the zap to it too, for salad dressing.

Margie Buchwalter
Jamestown, Ohio

No, I haven’t but it does sound great. I’m always up for new recipes, obviously. I’ll sure give it a try next year. Thanks for the new idea. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: saving squash seeds, Hopi Pale Grey squash, and apple-walnut cake

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Saving squash seeds

I harvested basketball sizes of Hopi squash this fall — and we had the squash for our Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend. You are absolutely right — DELICIOUS. Quick question regarding saving seeds — is there a test I can do to see if they are dry enough to store. Can I then vacuum pack them?

I will also send some back to you to replenish your stores (there was no other squash type plant in my garden this year so the seeds should be a “pure” strain)

Farmgirlwanabe (M. Blaney)

I’m sure thrilled that you got a good harvest of your Hopi Pale Grey squash. When the seeds are completely dry, a paper-like husk will shed off the seeds. I would still put them in an airtight glass jar for a couple of weeks just to make sure that there is no condensation inside, indicating that they need to dry more. They are FAT seeds and require more drying than do many other kinds of squash and pumpkin seeds.

Thank you for offering to send some of your seeds back to me. However, I really don’t need them as we harvested 90 big squash this year! Tons of seed. Instead, why don’t you offer them to some of your other gardening friends so they can help us keep this great squash alive and kickin’? It was ALMOST extinct! Thanks to folks like you, it’s climbing back to safety. — Jackie

Hopi Pale Grey squash

Thank you for your article on senior living for homesteaders. I envied your picture of what appeared to be Blue Hubbard and Butternut squash. I can hardly get past early summer with summer squash and infestations of squash bugs to have my winter squash mature. I have tried chemical pesticides such as Sevin, and the organic methods such as Dawn dish detergent in the exact amounts given to me, but have had no luck at all. I hand pluck and destroy and remove all eggs on leaves, but to no avail. What is your secret please?

Claudia Toenies
Silver City, New Mexico

The squash is one of our rare Hopi Pale Grey squash. We’re lucky that we don’t have squash bugs but have had them before in New Mexico. I’ve had good luck dusting with Rotenone or Pyrethrins, being sure to dust under the leaves as well. They seem to come in “waves” so if you continue to protect your vines the bugs lessen with time. You do need to dust/spray after every hard rain or watering when you water with a sprinkler. We also picked the adults and removed eggs by hand. If you rake up your spent squash vines and burn them it helps diminish your infestation next year as they overwinter in the dead vines. I hope you have better luck next summer. — Jackie

Apple-walnut cake

Your book “Growing and Canning your own food” page 228. Apple-Walnut Cake. My wife, Glenna, asks if perhaps there is a misprint in the amounts in the recipe. The line where it says “Pour into a greased and floured 13×9 inch baking pan” My wife says it is not pourable, it is so thick she had to spread it down with a spatula, making her think there might be a mistake.

Stephen Hawkins
Boone, Iowa

Nope, no mistake. “Dump” out in a pan sounds unpleasant so most recipes call for “pour” instead. This recipe makes a thick batter, thinned by the amount of liquid still in the canned apples. It is a heavy cake, not a light cake such as store cake mixes. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

No, aliens didn’t abduct Will and me

Monday, October 28th, 2013

I’m so sorry to have worried everyone by missing my two blogs last week. You see, Will’s daughter, who lives in central Illinois, was in a car accident leaving her unable to work on her very-much-a-fixer-upper new home. She called her Dad and asked if he and I could come down and help her out with it. She and her four children need to get moved into it before winter as their house is for sale and might sell, leaving them in a camping mode in the new place.

So Will and I consulted with David and in short order, we were headed south with Spencer and Hondo along. We couldn’t leave them as nobody would be home during David’s hours at college to let them outside to potty.

Will brought tools he thought he might need and for five days straight we worked mightily on the house. I painted while Will sheetrocked and re-did walls, among other things. Besides that, we got to visit four great-grandchildren and they got to play with “adorable” puppies. The house isn’t finished yet, but is in so much better shape that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Daughter is fine but very sore on her shoulder and hip. She was staining kitchen cabinets when we left. Luckily, she has a part-time carpenter working for her to help finish the job.

Our pups took the trip very well and with rest stops every two hours and naps between, they fared better than we did. Our butts were petrified when we got home! A thirteen hour drive is a LOOOONG way. But we’re home and glad we went. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…


Again, we’re sorry that any of you were worried about us. I have a desktop computer and couldn’t blog (didn’t have time, anyway!) and didn’t think to call the magazine until we were on the way home. We were not only butt dead, but brain dead as well I think. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

After a cold, rainy two days, we’re back at work outside

Friday, October 18th, 2013

We just had two nasty days of pouring rain. Yuck! So today, with the sun out, albeit 50 degrees, we’re back at work. Will’s up at the sawmill, cutting more boards for our porch roof and barn while I’m pulling the rest of the carrots and cooking down more tomato puree with the Mehu Liisa. For some reason this year our stored tomatoes we’d picked green tended to rot before ripening. So I have to pick through them carefully so I don’t get any rotten spots in the tomatoes I cook down for sauce. On the other hand, our onions, which have been plagued with neck rot for the last two years, turned out as solid as rocks. So I can’t complain and am very glad I canned tons of tomato products last year.


Spencer is very happy to have a sidekick around the homestead. Hondo shadows him inside and out and is quick to learn the ropes. (Look at mama chicken; don’t try to chase her chicks. She flies in your face and flaps her wings on your tender nose! Watch the goats; don’t try to bark at them. If you do, they chase you and stomp their feet on your butt.) Big dogs know stuff like that. Hondo is learning. And Spencer is so gentle with the little pup with the needle-sharp teeth who climbs on him and bites his ears. He just gets up and moves when the playing gets too rough. They’re already best buds. And Hondo already knows how to get into Will’s lap when he sits in his chair. He tried the flying leap but never got the timing right, so now he jumps then starts climbing up Will’s legs. Perfect!


We decided to go out of pig raising. We had been selling pork but after a couple of customers were unsatisfied with their country-smoked meat (which we had a local processor do), Will and I decided that it was too much stress on us because we really care about what folks say about food they buy from us. We had two litters of Red Wattle pigs, some of which we had planned on raising to sell for pork. Instead, we advertised weaner pigs and one fellow came and bought all of both litters! Now we have three sows to sell, one of which is bred to farrow next month. We’ll always raise a couple of pigs to butcher for ourselves and my son, Bill, and his wife. But we’re done selling pork. It’s really kind of sad for us. (We will still be selling beef as there’s no smoking involved!) Homesteading is full of ups and downs…just like all of life. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: pressure canner and recalled chicken

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Pressure canner

I have an All American canner and we live at 1300 ft. I am new at canning. Should I use the 15 oz weight and adjust the fire at 11 lb? When I do this the canner never jiggles as the manual says it should? Just checking to make sure I’m o.k. with my thinking that it should be fine!

Barbara Triesch
Blanco, Texas

This is exactly what I do. The weight only jiggles when the pressure in the canner is at 15 pounds (on the 15 pound setting) or greater. — Jackie

Recalled chicken

This is a “what would Jackie do” question. I recently bought 8 whole chickens that were a good price and canned them. Now this brand of chicken is causing more than 200 people to get sick from salmonella. The chicken is not being recalled, and it is said that the people are getting sick from mishandling the chicken. I know you can not necessarily tell me what to do, but what would you do with the 22 jars of chicken and the 20 jars of chicken stock in the cupboard? I fully cooked the chicken before I canned it and then canned it according to the experts instructions. Would you be comfortable using this food?

Connie Moore
Clearlake, Washington

Canning chicken properly will kill salmonella bacteria. The most common cause of people getting salmonella from chicken is that the chicken had the bacteria (often from fecal contamination during processing) and the meat was either undercooked or the folks handling it at home didn’t wash their hands after handling the meat while preparing it, then ingested the bacteria. A temperature of 165 degrees will kill salmonella and when you pressure can your meat, it reaches a temperature of 240 degrees for 75 minutes (pints) or 90 minutes (quarts), much higher than required to kill the organism. Your chicken should be fine. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

With snow in the forecast, we’re going double-time

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Besides daily chores, Will and I have been sawing logs with our Hud-Son bandsaw mill, edging boards on the hybrid gasoline-driven table saw and stacking them with stickers in between to allow airflow until we can use them. Some of the boards will be used on our front porch roof, some will be turned into barn siding and others will be the rest of the flooring in the hay loft of the new barn. The steel roofing should arrive this week sometime and due to winter closing in on us, Will’s getting anxious to get the barn under cover.

Today I helped Will with one 8-foot BIG log that he had to trim down to get in the sawmill. With a cant hook, we could barely turn it. After sawing it up, Will got more than thirty 2-inch boards — all from one log! Impressive.


Meanwhile, I’ve been saving tomato seeds by squeezing them out into bowls, filling the bowls with water, and fermenting the gel for a couple of days. Once fermented, I put the seeds in a sieve, rinse them very well, and dump them on an ice cream pail lid (with the variety labeled in permanent marker), then lay them out to dry.

I also have been trimming and checking our wonderful crop of onions over and putting them in bags and baskets to store. I had to separate out the Ailsa Craig onions (which are globe shaped) as they don’t store well. Later, I’ll dehydrate the ones we don’t use fresh because I’m getting low on onion powder and onion flakes for cooking.


And I finally got all our potatoes hauled down in the basement. Wow! We ended up with about 300 pounds of gorgeous, perfect potatoes. Yum. I can sure think of a lot of different ways we can eat them this winter: soup, stews, baked, roasted, scalloped, mashed, garlic mashed — Darn, I’m hungry! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: cleaning cow teats, “rotten” odor in reusable lids, and canning pumpkin

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Cleaning cow teats

I was wondering what kind of cow teat prep you use in the winter for milking? I have been using bleach, dish soap mix in warm water for the summer and it has worked great. I really don’t want to use the teat dip that is sold to dairies. My barn does not have warm water or is heated so for both of us it is a little chilly to continue to use water.

Stephanie Eckert
York, North Dakota

Honestly, all I use is warm water and a clean old washcloth and towel. We don’t have any water in the barn right now, so I just take a bucket of HOT water down to the barn with me with the washcloth inside it and the towel (an old hand towel) over my arm. By the time I feed and brush the cow (you avoid lots of poop specks if you keep the udder clipped and brush the underbelly before milking) the water is still warm. I wash the udder well, then dry it with the towel. If it’s real dirty, I wash it quite well, pour more water over the cloth in the gutter, squeeze out the dirty water, pour more clean water on, squeeze that pretty dry, and wash the rest of the teats. It works quite well. After milking, I use a bit of udder ointment to help keep the teats soft and protected against frost. (If your barn is quite a distance from the house and your water gets cold, try taking some out in an old thermos.) — Jackie

“Rotten” odor in reusable lids

After water bathing my green beans this year for the first time most of the batch spoiled. Although I was very disappointed and intend to pressure can them from now on, I’m even more aggravated at the lingering “rotten” odor I can’t seem to get out of my new Tattler lids. I have tried soaking them for days in vinegar, then baking soda, and lemon juice, (obviously not together) and have ran them several times through the dish washer. Do you have any other suggestions of how to get the rotten food smell out of my reusable lids?

Tred Schnoor
Anamosa, Iowa

EEK! You’re lucky they did obviously spoil or your family may have eaten them and had a trip to the ER. NEVER water bath any vegetables or meat or any recipe containing them (other than pickles). I’m glad you “learned your lesson” before it cost you hugely.

For the smell on your lids, I’d try mixing half bleach, half warm water, then putting one or two lids and rings in it overnight. In the morning, rinse well. Put outside, in the sunshine, for two days. Sniff and see if this worked. It usually gets rid of objectionable odors in my plastic. Only try a couple at first to make sure the bleach water doesn’t adversely affect the lids and rings. — Jackie

Canning pumpkin

I canned two separate batches of pumpkin chunks using the directions from your book. When I took them out of the pressure canners, they looked fine. (The liquid was bubbling inside the jars all the way up to the lid). But now that they are cooled, the jars are only 1/2 full of liquid! What happened? I’ve done lots of canning, and I didn’t do anything different or anything to affect the pressure canning or cooling process, so I’m confused what went wrong. Will the pumpkin be OK? How long will it last with only 1/2 the pumpkin covered in liquid? I’ve got 14 quarts and I’m worried about using them!

Gerri Conboy
Nashville, Indiana

First off, don’t worry. Your pumpkin will be fine. This happens to me sometimes too, usually when I’m busy and don’t hover over my canner quite enough. The pressure gets too high, I turn the heat down and the pressure varies and the liquid blows out. (When it’s boiling, it comes high in the jar, but when it cools, there really isn’t much left!) Again, not to worry; enjoy your pumpkin. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We’re digging potatoes today, with a new family member

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

It’s unseasonably warm today, sunny and 75 degrees. A perfect day to get those potatoes out of the ground and down in the basement. But first we had to haul out all of the last year’s potatoes. Yep, we still had ’em down there! Many were still hard but sprouting badly. And a lot of the sprouts had baby potatoes growing on them. (Hey, by spring, we would have a good crop!) Well, not really, but they were cute.

Our Dakota Pearl potatoes were wonderful! We’ve found that they are pretty scab resistant and as solid through and through as a rock. Many weighed a pound or more! And I’ve got three more rows to dig. Wow! Three hills make a 5-gallon bucket full to the tippy top. They work much better for us than do russets, which scab badly and are plagued with hollow heart. I know they are an old standard for many people, but for us, they sure could be improved upon.


Helping us is our new family member. Naw, I didn’t have a baby. But friends gave us a gorgeous pup. He is half Lab and half Australian Cattle Dog, seven weeks old, and as cute as a button. Will thought maybe Spencer would like to “train” him, as he knows the ropes. And Spencer is SO good with babies! He licks him all over and even lets him eat out of his bowl with no ugly faces or growling. Hondo is new today to us, but is already learning to potty outside and has a “cave” under a stool in the laundry room. We will crate train him so he will learn to stay out of mischief during the night. This is a good way to help potty train pups as well as give them their own space. Spencer loved his “house” and was shocked when we took it out to the storage barn when he was older and didn’t need it. He thought he still did! (Now he sleeps on a twin mattress tucked halfway under our bed.)


Mittens is still a bit put out that a stranger is among us but I’m confident that pretty soon she’ll love him too. — Jackie


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