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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: footings for retaining wall and eating collard flowerettes

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Footings for retaining wall

Will’s work on the barn and retaining wall has turned out to be so beautiful. We are wanting to build a retaining wall also about 18-24 inches high. How deep did you all put in the footers before starting the rock work?

Nana from Texas

Our footings are 8 inches deep with plenty of rebar and wire, and are twice as wide as the wall is thick — 12 inches wide as our walls are 6 inches wide. In the barn, our walls are 8 inches wide so the footings are 8 inches deep and 16 inches wide. When building a retaining wall, you should lean the wall into the bank ⅛ inch per foot, bare minimum. If your soil is not sand and gravel, you should install drain holes along the bottom so that any moisture doesn’t get trapped behind the wall, eventually cracking it. Our soil is 100% rock, sand, and gravel so this isn’t a concern, especially beneath the house. — Jackie

Eating collard flowerettes

I read with interest your reply to the reader asking if broccoli leaves can be used like kale or collards and you affirmed that indeed they can be. I also want to tell you the opposite can be true. Down here in the lower South I let my collard plants overwinter and they normally do quite nicely, but the time comes, especially when sitting in the garden for almost a year that they go to seed. What I noticed was that the flower stalks look remarkably like broccoli or broccoli rabe so I cooked some up as broccoli spears and were they ever good! In fact, they had a delightful taste and texture almost like asparagus and broccoli together. I continued to pick the spears as they appeared and got a harvest of about 3-4 weeks from them, for multiple pounds long before the spring-planted broccoli was ready. The spears grow faster and longer than broccoli spears and because of that fast growth were exceptionally tender. My next project is overwintered kale flower stalks!

Dave Franklyn
Tallassee, Alabama

Thanks for the information, Dave! What a creative bunch homesteaders are. I know I find myself continually experimenting with this and that to see just what would happen if… I know a whole lot of folks will be eating collard flowerettes in the future! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: leaving rings on jars in storage, canning pinto beans, and growing tomatoes in low light

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Leaving rings on jars in storage

Our family butchered a 500+ pound hog this past weekend, and we were able to render 30+ quarts of lard. We poured the hot lard directly from the press into the jars, and they all sealed. Now I am wondering if I need to leave the rings on in storage. I normally don’t keep my rings on my jars in storage, but I don’t want to do anything to ruin this wonderful lard.

Lisa Smith
Sunbury, Pennsylvania

I take my rings off then wash the sealed, cool jars in hot, soapy water to remove any grease. Then I dry my rings and air dry the jars. When dry, I do put the rings back on but don’t tighten them much at all. This is just to keep lids in place, should one get bumped as they really aren’t “canned” even though they are sealed. Isn’t that lard great? I NEVER use shortening anymore after learning more about it. — Jackie

Canning pinto beans

I saw this information posted on another blog and wondered what your thoughts might be on it. The discussion was about canning dried beans.

“I LOVE home canned pinto beans! … I sort & wash them. 1/2 c. beans per pint or 1 c. beans per quart. Put them in hot jars, top off with boiling water to 1″ head space. I add 1/4 t. salt per pint, 1/2 t. per quart. Get the air bubbles out, wipe the rim of the jar, lid & ring on and in the pressure canner. 11# pressure for 75 minutes for pints, and 90 mins for quarts. I don’t soak them, I don’t cook them. Don’t need to, the pressure canner does that. You should save yourself some electricity and give it a try.”

It WOULD save time and effort, and maybe prevent mushiness. Thanks for any input.

Donna Herlihy
Wentworth, New Hampshire

I have friends who use this method but it isn’t a “recommended” canning method, although I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. The method I use is to pour rinsed, picked through beans into a big kettle. Cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Cover and let sit covered for 2 hours. Heat back up to boiling. Then ladle beans out into hot jars, just more than half full. Cover with hot cooking liquid and leave 1″ of headspace. If you don’t have enough cooking liquid, use boiling water. Process for 65 minutes for pints and 75 minutes for quarts. I find this works well and doesn’t take much effort at all. — Jackie.

Growing tomatoes in low light

My garden-loving parents have moved into a senior-living apartment complex and have a north-facing balcony on the 11th floor. Dad desperately wants to grow tomatoes. Do you know of any varieties that might do well under low-light conditions? Will he need to hand-pollinate them?

Carol Elkins
Pueblo, Colorado

Tell your dad not to despair. I’ve grown several tomatoes on north-facing sides of the buildings and had them do okay. They do tend to lean out, looking for the sun. But they will grow and give him tomatoes. Usually, the shorter season tomatoes will do best on the north side, where it tends to be cooler. No, he won’t have to hand-pollinate them. Tomatoes are chiefly self-pollinating, having both male and female parts in each flower, so they don’t need help to set fruit. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: making and preserving cracklin’s

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Making and preserving cracklin’s

How do you preserve cracklings after rendering the lard, besides freezing?

Phil
Live Oak, Florida

I render the lard and separate out the cracklings before they get too brown. Then I spoon them into pint or half-pint jars and fill the jars with lard, covering the cracklings. (The cracklings and lard are VERY hot!) You can process these jars, after being sure to wipe the rim of the jar very well and adding a hot, previously simmered lid, for 75 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. To use, simply spoon out, heat, drain off the lard (keep it for cooking, of course) and use your cracklings. Grandma and Mom just covered their cracklin’s with hot lard, put on a hot lid after wiping the rim of the jar, and screwed down the ring. The jars sealed and the cracklings stayed good. But I don’t think this method would be accepted by experts today! — Jackie

Since we are in the time of only having certain cuts of meat, you cannot find a cracklin’ in any store. If I were to make my own, without growing my own pig, how would I go about doing so? I have been wanting cracklin’ cornbread like the old days.

Paula Setzer
Huntersville, North Carolina

You can usually find “discarded” pig fat at local smaller processors. (You can ask folks who sell farm-raised pork in your area.) If you’ll go there and explain that you want to render some lard for the cracklin’s, they will often give you a bunch or sell you the fat real cheap. If you can get them to grind it, so much the better as it reduces the labor of having to either grind it at home or chop the fat into small pieces for rendering.

I render my lard in a turkey roaster in the oven so I don’t have to stand over it all afternoon. Just put it in, leaving plenty of room so it doesn’t melt and run over. Render it at about 250-300° F and keep an eye on it as it gets pretty much done. Then dip off the clear, hot melted lard and strain it through a clean cloth into a bowl. Then you can dip the melted lard right out after straining, while it’s still very hot and put it into hot, clean jars, wipe off the rim very well and put a hot, new lid on it and screw down the ring firmly tight. Now you have nice lard to put in your pantry. The cracklin’s and some lard are still left in the roasting pan and you can dump more out of the straining cloth into the roaster. I usually finish my batch on the stovetop so I can stir it and make sure it doesn’t scorch. When most of the lard has been taken off, you can scoop your cracklin’s out into pint or half-pint jars, cover with hot, melted lard, wipe the rim of the jar very well and add a hot, previously simmered lid. Process for 75 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. Done deal! We love cracklin’s in cornbread, hoe cakes, and in corn fritters! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had two great Christmas celebrations

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Since our youngest son, David, had to work on Saturday when oldest son Bill and his family could come, we had Christmas dinner on Christmas for David and his girlfriend Hannah, and another Christmas dinner on Saturday when my sister Sue, Bill and his family, and Javid could all come. It was a bit hectic but we sure had a great extended Christmas.

Ava_Howden
Of course we had lots of good food. I made a boneless pork loin glazed with pincherry jelly. Wow was that good! And we had Will’s cheesecake, pumpkin pies, garlic mashed potatoes (that have 8 oz. of cream cheese, a cup of sour cream and a 1/4 pound of butter whipped with them, plus 1/2 tsp. of garlic salt, then baked) plus a green bean casserole (our Provider green beans of course!), candied carrots (big Nantes chunks from the pantry) and tons of snack goodies. Whew!

Now I can get started at canning up lots of meats from the leftover pork loin, chicken, and beef. Cool.

And we’re plenty busy too with our little seed business, Seed Treasures (see new box above blog), packing and shipping seeds. It’s really fun to be sharing seeds with so many different people!

Ava-Spencer
We’re looking back on all we’ve accomplished during the past year and we’re so excited about the New Year coming soon and all our plans for spring. May you, too, look with enthusiasm, toward the coming year. HAPPY NEW YEAR! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Merry Christmas to you and yours

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Mittens-tree
I finally got our Christmas tree decorated last night. Just in time! We think it looks pretty and sure perks us up. We’ve been hugely busy lately. I didn’t even get one Christmas card sent out. That’s a record for me! Oh well. S*^& happens. For me it was the diverticulitis from which I’m still playing catch up.

Will’s been working on the new barn, trying to get it enclosed before our first blizzard. He got the west wall enclosed with some of our free plywood so at least the snow won’t blow in. The plywood is to prevent any drafts from getting in through tiny cracks in the board and batten siding that’ll go on next. He also picked up some rigid insulation board on our local online auction for about half of the lumberyard price. That great buy was lessened when 6 sheets slid out of the truck on the way home. By the time he went back to get it, someone else had picked it up. Oh well, maybe they needed it more than we did to keep their family warm…

Nearly-enclosed
The insulation board will go on the upper wall of the barn between the outside plywood and inside boards to help keep the barn warmer in winds. Some will be added beneath the floor of our greenhouse/sunporch as we don’t have enough there now to keep stuff on the floor from freezing in prolonged periods of extreme cold like last winter.

Blowing-water-lines
I’m getting ready to bake goodies for our Christmas dinner as well as washing clothes while Will is watering the livestock. We used to have a lot of trouble with our water lines freezing. But Will made a short hose with a hose thread on one end and a fitting for an air chuck on the other. So when we’re done watering, we drain the hose as well as we can then he plugs in the compressor and builds up 100 psi. Then he attaches the fitting and blows out water. This is repeated 3 times and seems to work well. What a relief. Watering is so much easier now.

Again, you all have a wonderful Holiday Season! And a warm hug from me. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We count our blessings as Christmas nears

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

We’re really grateful for so many different things. We are grateful for each other and for this wonderful homestead that just keeps getting better every day.

When I think of moving here in 2003, in February, when there was nothing but small trees, old logs and stumps with big woods all around and all we’ve accomplished it doesn’t seem possible: the log house, huge storage building, big gardens, berry patch, orchard, tons of fencing, fenced pig pastures or extra garden (whichever is needed), a training ring and adjacent barn, clearing two pastures, then the third huge one on the new forty acres we bought three years ago, plowing and planting many acres, buying haying equipment, and building the new barn.

Stocking up the pantry after nearly depleting it after our move here is beyond belief. We’re eating our own home-raised pork, chicken, eggs, milk, and beef along with some canned venison from last year as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables from our homestead.

Bread
The bread we bake is from flour we grind and after that bout with diverticulitis, I’m SO happy to be able to eat whole wheat bread again! It’s like a celebration, pulling a loaf out of the oven. We never take things for granted but appreciate every single day. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Nothing like home-raised chicken

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

I roasted two chickens yesterday. We ate part of one for supper last night with rice and carrots. Wow, was that good! Today I’ll be picking chicken off the bone and canning both of them up in the wonderful broth made from the pan drippings. I have four more in the freezer but as it’s supposed to hit the forties I think we’ll butcher a couple more and then can them up right after they’ve cooled down.

Roasted-chicken
I also got whole boneless pork loins on sale from our local store for $1.99 a pound and I’ll be canning them up too.

We’ll be getting our beef back in about a week and we can hardly wait as we’ve been out of beef for quite awhile, except for canned beef. Canned beef is great but sometimes you just want some fresh meat too. Right now we’re starting to take orders for our last two butcher steers and hopefully we’ll get the meat sold before our butchering date in January. Craigslist has been good that way. It seems that lots of folks are concerned about where their meat comes from these days and that’s a good thing.

Will and I have been talking more about the varieties we plan to grow next spring and about fencing the 1½ acres that was our new corn/pumpkin patch. Unfenced, the deer left us the corn but ate all the pumpkins and squash. We can’t have that happen again so we’re trying to save up enough to buy fencing for it. We do have the fence posts already so I’m crossing my fingers! A local greenhouse has contacted us about supplying them with Halloween pumpkins and fall decorative squash next year so we’ll try to do that too out of our “test plots” on the new ground where we won’t be saving seed. (It’ll cross as we’re going to grow several different varieties.)

I’m feeling better but will sure be glad when I’m done with drugs! My stomach does NOT like them!

Well, back to canning. By the way, a big “thank you” to all of you who are continuing to order seeds from the click box at the top of the blog. We DO still have seeds but watch as we’ll soon be posting our 2014-2015 seed listing that will have many more varieties available. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

So far we’ve had an on-and-off-again winter

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Our temps started out real cold; down to -25 and windy. Brrr. But lately we’ve been having much more moderate temps and we’re maybe going to hit 40 above this weekend. Translated, that means we’re getting more done around here because we can stand to work outside.

Will’s been cutting more lumber on the sawmill. He has almost enough to frame the top walls on the whole barn. (He has two sections finished now.) We’ve been using some of the slab wood every day for firewood as the temperatures have been so warm we don’t need the wood to last a long time in the stove. Waste not, want not! As Will cuts it so carefully, we don’t have building-quality slabs but they’re thick on the butt end and run out to thin on the top. But it does make nice (free) firewood.

Sawing-lumber

Nice-boards
Meanwhile, because I sure don’t feel up to helping him yet (I’m still kind of weak from the diverticulitis, which seems to have left), I boned our Thanksgiving turkey, cut it up, and boiled the carcass. Then I canned it up. It ended up to be nine pints and a quart of broth. One jar didn’t seal so I made turkey and potato chowder from it — a pint of turkey with broth, diced potatoes, carrots, and onions. Boy, was that good!

Canned-turkey
Well, we’ve got to go set out round bales so I’ll see you soon! — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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