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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category
Friday, April 26th, 2013
If I can my fish in a pressure cooker as directed will the bones become digestible like canned salmon so I can make fish cakes from them? We grow tilapia in a stock tank in our back yard so we have so many fish that we need some new ways to prepare them. Thank you for all the help you have been in teaching me to can our food. It is just too bad that it took me until I was 70 years old to learn all these neat things that you write about. It has been fun and my husband and I enjoy your Growing and Canning Your Own Food book and your Pantry cookbook. I just wish we had known you sooner. If you are ever around Phoenix Arizona give us a call. We have a 2 bedroom guest house if you would like to spend some time in the area.
Usually fish bones will become soft when pressure canned with the meat, just like store-bought salmon. Some larger fish such as tuna have larger bones that don’t get as soft and must be removed before canning. I’m so glad you’re canning. And like Dad used to say, “Better late than never!” He was still learning new skills at 90. Thank you very much for the invitation. Maybe one day we’ll meet and I’ll take you up on it! I’d love to come down for the Festival of the West some year soon. — Jackie
I raise registered Nubian goats and have made cheese (soft and hard) (also had a separator before the fire and made a lot of butter) in the past. Can’t manage to get any of it to melt like store bought cheese melts, however. I have used mainly the book “Goats Produce Too” in the past. Any suggestions? I’ve tried to can some and yuck…it still won’t melt. Is melting of Mozzarella, cheddars, and so forth just something that we have become used to thanks to the big producers? I have enough canned milk. I am over run with kefir (even strained kefir to soft cheese point, frozen to then make hard cheese…sigh…). I need to consider making cheese again before it gets hot (we have no A/C and are in Texas — triple digits are coming too soon).
Also…For folks wanting to raise two types of the same family of squash: They should consider getting the book “Seed to Seed“. This book explains methods of raising pure seed including hand pollinating; which can be a decent idea if neighbors also have gardens.
Also…You have recommended Seed Savers. Seed Savers also has a WONDERFUL membership that includes a WONDERFUL book each year of folks that exchange seeds. This one source alone can be a wonderful educational tool as to what squash is of what family/species. This is my Sears catalog each year!
For a quick mozzarella that melts wonderfully, use the cottage cheese recipe on page 48 of Goats Produce Too except that once finally drained and salted, put it in a saucepan over low heat, and melt, stirring as you go. It gets stretchy. Work out the whey by stretching, then just put it into your hands and make a ball. Done! We really love this and it’s so much faster than regular mozzarella. I’ve never had any trouble with the cheddar and Colby melting. How about your soft cheeses like French Chevre? I use it just like cream cheese and we use it a lot. I’d just give it another go. Try different recipes; it’s like cooking, what works best for someone doesn’t do the job for others. Cheesemaking is a developed art, a skill, and sometimes it just takes time to get “right.” Hang in there!
Thanks for the tips for readers. (I didn’t mention hand pollinating because it can get confusing, but it does work and I’ve used it to raise several varieties of squash in the same garden without cross pollinating.) — Jackie
Friday, April 5th, 2013
Canning potatoes and green beans
Do you use raw potatoes and green beans in this canning recipe? Is it still an approved recipe? An older post advised to mix your potatoes, green beans, and ham together, then pack it into jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Fill the jars to within 1 inch of the top with boiling water or ham broth. Process pints for 75 minutes. I’d suggest canning this mixture in pints as a longer processing time may result in mushy potatoes.
Yes, you can use raw potatoes and green beans, which is called a raw pack. It is still an approved recipe although not found in the Ball Blue Book any more. — Jackie
Sugarless strawberry jam
Do you have a good recipe for sugarless Strawberry jam?
There are several good ways to make sugarless strawberry jam. One is to just use a sugar-free powdered pectin. Another is to use Pomona’s Universal Pectin.
One good recipe is:
1 pt. strawberries
1 cup water
1 (4 serving size) envelope sugar-free strawberry gelatin dessert
Crush strawberries and cook for two minutes in one cup of water. Now, mix in one of the gelatin envelopes. Stir until completely dissolved. Pour into jars, seal, and cool. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.
As you see, this recipe isn’t canned but it is so quick and easy you can whip it up in minutes and it tastes great. — Jackie
Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
I baked up a big smoked half ham from one of our pigs for Easter dinner. Our son and daughter-in-law, Bill and Kelly, along with our grandchildren, Mason and Ava were at our place for dinner. My sister Sue and her son Sean also joined us, so along with Will, David, and I we had a real nice visit and meal. Nearly all of our meal came from the homestead including caramelized baked squash slices, two pies, and Will’s favorite cheesecake, of course.
As our stored potatoes are still holding up very well, I also made a big batch of potatoes au gratin and we scarfed down mustard bean pickles and other goodies with our meal. We still had nearly two feet of snow in our yard, so we didn’t have an Easter egg hunt here. Bill and Kelly held one for the kids at home before coming. They DID love the huge green emu egg!
We had so much fun watching Mason and Ava playing and Ava eating chocolate and cookies. But today it’s back to the old grind. I am continuing to plant seeds indoors and getting ready to transplant our first tomatoes, which now have three sets of leaves. I was sure tickled when I went to our local nursery, The Watering Can, and found that Dianne was stocking and selling bags of Pro-Mix! I’ve used it for years and years and have found no better seed starting and growing medium. I did weaken and try a small bag of Jiffy-Mix seed starting medium this spring and found that they haven’t improved it a bit. It is SO hard to get to it absorb water! It takes me half an hour to dampen one small container. What a pain.
I also trialed a small bag of Miracle Gro seed starting medium. A few years back, we tried it and were really disappointed in the results — yellow spindly plants and poor germination. This year, they have changed the formula and I can say that they did a good job. (Don’t make a mistake and use POTTING soil!) Even worse is the cheap, very dense and heavy “top soil” or “potting soil” that is wet peat moss. It is too acid and dense and seedlings just won’t grow in it.
Our snow is continuing to melt and I’m truly thankful. I’ll be so glad to get into the dirt and even pull dead debris out of my flower beds. Whew, winter has been long.
By the way, any of you who live in northern Minnesota might want to stop up in Mt. Iron for the Earth Fest on April 6th. Will and I will be manning the Backwoods Home booth at this show and we’d love to visit with you! Stop by and say hi! — Jackie
Friday, February 1st, 2013
I live by myself and I have had two soup suppers lately and I have a lot of soup left over. I’m eating soup three times a day. I have baked potato with lots of cheese sauce in it, broccoli cheese, sauerkraut soup, 4B’s tomato. Can I can this, and if so, how? My oldest is telling me that I can’t can anything with milk or flour, is this true?
Usually if you can food with milk in it, the milk will kind of separate and look unappetizing. A little flour is fine, but you shouldn’t can a thick soup. It would possibly be too dense for safe processing as the required temperature may not reach the centers of the jars long enough. With any mixed recipes, can using the method (water bath or pressure) required for the single ingredient with the most time requirements. Often this is meat or corn, both requiring long pressure canner times. Remember, you can always freeze your extra soup. — Jackie
I am interested in replacing my old stove with an induction stove top. It is so hot and humid in SE Virginia in the summers so it would be nice to heat just the pan and not the surrounding air. I understand it is not recommended to can on a regular flat stove top. Do you think this is also true for an induction stove top?
Newport News, Virgina
I’m afraid induction stove tops come with the same warning by the manufacturers about not using them for canning. I’m sure folks do use them against manufacturer’s warnings, but I’d be leery about buying a new stove and using it for canning. Any readers out there with more information for Sheryl? — Jackie
Rancid brown rice
After reorganizing my pantry and storage I found a container, about two or three pounds of brown rice that smells rancid or strong. What can I do with it now that it has gone bad? Is there a way to save it, and can it, or should I cook it up and feed it to livestock? If feeding it is my only option, can I feed it to my chickens?
Sometimes you can save rancid dry foods by placing them on a cookie sheet and gently heating in the oven for about 20 minutes at the lowest temperature your oven will maintain. Stir often to prevent scorching. When done, cool and sniff to see if it worked. You can sometimes use rancid smelling rice in a spicy recipe that has ingredients to mask the smell. I’d give it a whirl and see. If it doesn’t work, your chickens will sure love you. — Jackie
Thursday, January 31st, 2013
John and I want to plant as many crops for the animals as we can this year. What do you recommend for fresh eating and storage foods?
Frazier Park, California
It depends chiefly on how much tillable/irrigated land you have available. Traditional livestock crops like field or silage corn are high producing but need quite a bit of acreage. (We don’t have it so we don’t grow field corn or silage corn which you can also manually harvest to feed green on the stalk.) So we grow plenty of extra pumpkins, squash, and rutabagas. All take relatively little land and give us lots of both people and animal feed. Other useful crops are comfrey, which we harvest all summer and fall as a cut-and-come-again crop for the cattle, goats, pigs, and chickens. It is rampant and perennial, requiring little care and having no pests. It is also invasive so be careful where you put it if you decide to grow it! We planted ours behind our training ring, way down by the new barn so it can’t get into our garden. It’s also handy there to cut. We also cut our sweet corn stalks while they are still green to feed the critters after we harvest the ears on the stalks to eat or can. Every little bit helps. — Jackie
I made a 10 qt. pot of Brunswick stew and it scorched. What can I do to get rid of the smell and taste?
Hampstead, North Carolina
Sometimes you can get rid of scorched smell and taste by gently removing all the stew and NOT disturbing the burned-on bottom layer, and then pouring it into another clean pot. Then peel a large potato and add to it along with 1 Tbsp. vinegar. Slowly simmer the soup for about 45 minutes, stirring so it doesn’t scorch again. Remove the potato, take a sniff, and taste. Sometimes this works; sometimes it is too badly scorched for the taste to be removed. Stuff happens sometimes. I sure hate for this to happen to me but it has. — Jackie
Pressure canning meat
Recently I have begun pressure canning our own meat. I did ground beef for the first time (cooked it, drained off the fat, packed in hot jars, covered it with stock, 1 inch headspace, processed pints for 55 minutes at 15 pounds per the canner’s manual) and now I’m not sure if the meat is good. The seals pinged, but most of the liquid is not in the jars any longer and the jars themselves were greasy feeling when they came out of the canner. The meat looks fine, but looks can be deceiving. So is the meat safe to eat?
Bound Brook, New Jersey
Your canner said to process at 15 pounds for 55 minutes? The normal recommended processing pressure is 10 pounds unless you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet and the time is 75 minutes for pints of meat. The liquid may have blown out of the jars because of the higher pressure. This, in itself, is not usually anything to be worried about, but I would be concerned about only processing the jars for 55 minutes which is 20 minutes less than the recommended time. Personally, I’d refrigerate the jars and use them as soon as it is convenient. And I’d pick up a canning book (you could pick up mine by clicking right here on the blog) for future use. Just wash the jars off with hot, soapy water to remove the grease on the outsides of the jars. — Jackie
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Will and Jackie’s 2013 homesteading seminar will take place beginning Friday August 23rd, through Sunday August 25th, on their homestead about 80 miles north of Duluth, Minnesota. If you are interested in a hands-on learning experience about the practical aspects of homesteading, please click here for more information.
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Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
When I dug my potatoes last fall they were nice and brown. I put them on tables in my garage and they turned green — dark green. I have used some; peeling all the green away but was wondering why they turned green and if I can use the rest for seeding this year.
Potatoes turn green due to light. It can be light from a window or even light from a light fixture. You can use them to reseed, but you’re doing right by peeling all the green away as it can be toxic. — Jackie
Planting corn and pumpkins together
My 16 year old daughter wants to plant pumpkins and try to sell them from our house. I want to plant popcorn. We have one plot. I know the Native Americans used to do this, but how? Do I plant both at the same time? How do I space them? Do the squash seeds go in the rows or in between rows? Do I have to constantly go in and pull the vines down off the corn? Any suggestions for what type of pumpkin she should plant?
Also, sometime back you said you would mail Hopi Pale Gray squash seed. I would like to try these, but not sure how to get my information to you.
Yes, Native Americans did — and many still do — plant corn and pumpkins together, often adding pole beans to climb on the cornstalks. The trick is to plant only corn that is to be used as dry corn (such as corn for cornmeal or in your case, popcorn). No, you don’t plant them at the same time. Wait until the corn is up about 4 inches then plant your pumpkin seeds. It works best to plant the pumpkin seeds between the corn seeds in the row. I usually leave a few spaces down the rows for the pumpkin seeds. In this way you can cultivate the rows until the pumpkin vines start to run. No, you don’t have to pull the vines off the corn — just let them ramble. I usually kind of “aim” the running vines down the rows so they don’t try to climb the corn right away. And plant a tall variety of popcorn, not a dwarf kind like Tom Thumb, as the vines will climb on the cornstalks somewhat and the stalks need to be strong enough to support them.
If folks want some of my Hopi Pale Grey squash seeds, the best way is to send a padded SASE to the magazine and they’ll forward groups of envelopes on to me and I’ll mail them on to you. But, as I now have your address, I’ll go ahead and send some right to you. (You have to understand that I can’t always do this because of the cost of the envelopes and stamps.) I do get a lot of requests!
If you want to grow the Hopi Pale Grey squash, please choose a pumpkin that is a C. pepo so they won’t cross. If you plant two C. maximas, like HPGs and a pumpkin that is a C. maxima, they will cross and your seed won’t remain pure.
A couple of good pumpkins that are C. pepos are Howden, Connecticut Field, and Long Island Cheese. Smaller pumpkins that sell well are Sugar Pie and Wee-Be-Little.
Have fun and enjoy your garden! — Jackie
I love your canning book! I about used it out this fall. My question is do you think it would be possible to replace the chicken in your Brunswick stew recipe with rabbit? Would there be any adjustments? Do you have any other favorite rabbit recipes?
Woonsocket, South Dakota
Yes, you can substitute rabbit for the chicken in the Brunswick stew recipe with no adjustments or changes in processing. In fact, I often substitute rabbit or grouse for chicken in nearly all recipes. No, I don’t have a favorite, but using boned rabbit in stir fry recipes is right up at the top. — Jackie
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
I’m like everyone else; sometimes I really, really want something. And I’m the one who preaches about deciding whether something is needed or just “wanted!” Like everyone, we’re really broke after the holidays, too. So this isn’t a good time for Will and me to stumble upon a simply gorgeous wood cookstove. But we did. I even put a bid on it when it was cheaper. The stove is on an online auction site, Do-Bid.com, here in Minnesota. The bidding is finished at 7 p.m. on the 8th and I suppose “our” stove will sell for around $300. Way too much for us right now. And, after all, it is a “want” more than a need. I do have a functioning wood range, although not a pretty one. So I just thought I’d let you peek into a Jackie weakness so you’ll know I’m just like you. — Jackie