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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: spaghetti squash and canning lamb/beef bones

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Spaghetti squash

This is my first year of growing spaghetti squash, and I baked my first one today. The inside didn’t come out stringy like spaghetti. It looks more like regular winter squash with a rice like texture. Any ideas what could have caused this? It still tastes great!

Johanna Hill
Arcanum, Ohio

What I do is cut my spaghetti squash in half, pick out any mature seeds, then gently “fluff” up the strings. I pour homemade spaghetti sauce over it all in a baking dish and top with cheese. Bake in the oven until tender. — Jackie

Canning lamb/beef bones

Can a person can beef or lamb bones? I am killing several and want to can the bones so they make a broth while they are canning. Then the bones would also be preserved so we could dump out broth for us and then give bone to our dog.

Lisa Leffert
Bonney Lake, Washington

You can certainly can bones with stock, as you indicate, but giving cooked bones of any kind to dogs is pretty dangerous. Raw bones’ slivers can be digested by dogs but cooked bones often pass into the gut, undigested and can block the intestines and even puncture them. I’d make your broth and freeze some of the uncooked large bones for the dog. He’ll thank you for keeping him safe. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

I’m canning nearly every day now

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Our beans are in! And so are our peppers. This year I’m making batch after batch of Cowboy Candy, a candied jalapeño. Wow, are they ever good and really not all that hot. Especially when I mix Early Jalapeños with Fooled You, which aren’t hot at all. Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try them:


3 lbs. jalapeño peppers
6 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar
½ tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. celery seed
3 tsp. granulated garlic

Slice jalapeños. If you don’t want so much heat, cut off top and cut out seeds and ribs before slicing ¼ inch thick. If you are sensitive or can’t keep from wiping your eyes (burns like crazy if you do!), wear plastic gloves.

Add all ingredients but peppers into a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add peppers. Bring to a boil and simmer 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove peppers and pack into half-pint jars. Bring syrup to a boil and boil hard for 6 minutes. This thickens the syrup somewhat. Ladle over sliced peppers, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Wipe rim of jar, add previously simmered lid, and screw down ring firmly tight. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

These are great on creamed cheese and crackers. Or about anything else! Yum.
Our bean crop is phenomenal this year. I only planted two short rows of Provider bush beans because I still have shelves full of canned beans. But those rows have given me four basketfuls of beans so far, and they’re still producing like mad. I canned plain beans and Mustard Bean pickles. Tomorrow it’s Dilly Beans. Guess why I love Providers? And they get pretty big but are meaty, with small seeds until they are pretty mature, so they last on the vine for quite a while before going seedy.
This year we tried a new pole bean, Neckargold, after our friend Dara raved about them last year. Our vines are covered with flat, long, tender gold beans. We ate one batch to try them, and they are tender with very good flavor. This is another keeper!
We are getting such a kick out of the batch of chicks that were hatched in our front yard. They run here and there, gobbling up bugs, grass, and seeds. We think they’re mobile yard ornaments! They’re so entertaining. Who needs TV? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: overpressure plug on canner and lime water

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Overpressure plug on canner

How often should you realistically replace the overpressure plug on an All American canner? The manual suggests replacing it at least every 12 months. My canner is 3-4 years old and I’ve never replaced it. The rubber still seems to be in great shape. What do you do?
DK Phillips
Columbus, Ohio

Personally, I feel that if the plug rubber is soft and doesn’t leak excessive steam, it’s fine. Today with everyone so sue-happy, manufacturers have to cover their butts. I’ve never replaced mine after eleven years of use. If it wears out or becomes brittle, replace it. The worst that could happen is that the plug blows out and may ruin a batch of canning. It’s not like the canner would blow up. — Jackie

Lime water

I grow my own dent corn, and have been making corn flour for years, but I have never been able to find the ratio of wood ashes to water to make lime water. I would like to be able to make corn chips etc. from scratch. Have you had any experience with this process? I live in Massachusetts and burn mostly oak or maple for heat, would the type of wood ashes matter? Nobody in this area has any idea what I’m talking about when I ask about soaking corn or even slaked lime. Do you have any advice?

South Hadley, Massachusetts

You don’t use wood ashes to make lime water. Soaked wood ashes make lye, which also can be used to make hominy which is then dried to make masa harina from which such things as tortillas and tamales can be made. I prefer using lime water; it’s less dangerous and quick to find and use. Here’s how:

You need 2 lbs of field corn (removed from cob) and two tablespoons slaked lime (pickling lime). Clean the shelled corn by placing in a colander and rising with cold water.

Add two quarts of water into a four-quart non-corrosive pan (stainless steel, or enameled pot). Put the pan on high heat and stir in the slaked lime until it dissolves.

Bring the slaked lime water to a boil and add the corn stirring gently. Using a slotted spoon remove any kernels that float to the top. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and let the corn soak for about one hour.

Put the corn into a colander and rinse very well with cold water. Rub the corn between your hands to loosen any hulls still attached to the kernels. Continue this until the corn is all white (except the little tips). Allow the corn to drain.

The corn is now ready for your favorite pozole or hominy recipe. Or you can dry the hominy well, then grind it to make masa harina. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: making corn meal and growing Hopi Pale Grey Squash

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Making corn meal

My question is regarding homemade corn meal. We have a hand crank corn sheller and it works great. We also have a grist mill, and it makes corn meal just fine. The problem is the cob dust (the red part of the corn cob, which stays on the end of the kernel of corn). Is there a way to get that cob dust so it does not end up in the corn meal? (It floats to the top of the corn bread, and looks and tastes terrible).

Brian in Minnesota

Usually if you grind a dent corn this can happen. I like flint corn as you don’t end up with this problem. To reduce the red dust, take your shelled corn and handful by handful, rub it between your hands and then drop it into another bowl. Take it outside in a breeze and slowly pour the corn from one bowl to another. This lets the chaff blow away, leaving clean corn. — Jackie

Growing Hopi Pale Grey Squash

Does the Hopi Pale Grey Squash have a strong enough stem/vine to be grown on a trellis? I’m doing spaghetti squash, butternut squash, your cucumbers, and pumpkins as well, and I know all of those except pumpkins will grow nicely on a sturdy A-frame made of hog panels. I was hoping the Hopi would as well.

Chrissy Mullender
Luray, Kansas
Yes, the Hopi Pale Greys will grow on a trellis. I had some that climbed a tree and hung from it, come fall. The vines are not only strong but extremely rampant! Most pumpkins will, too, except the giant ones like Big Max or Atlantic Giant. Mom had a big pumpkin grow up an apple tree and come fall, there were orange pumpkins hanging out of her tree. What a sight! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: shelf life of canned foods and electronic pressure cooker

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Shelf life of canned foods

I have recently cleaned and rearranged our pantry and found several store bought cans with the expiration date of 2013 and 2014, are they still good and how long can I keep store bought cans?

Claudine Norwood
Wagoner, Oklahoma

Like your home-canned foods, store-bought foods remain good until the can rusts out. I’ve found that the expiration date is a suggestion that makes people throw out “outdated” food. Don’t throw away perfectly good food and go buy more that is “fresh.” Use that food instead! — Jackie

Electronic pressure cooker

You are so on top of things that I have a question for you. You may have already addressed this question and if so, I apologize for asking it again. Have you used the new electronic pressure cooker? It’s called “The original Power Pressure Cooker XL.” Its website is: They advertise that it can be used for pressure canning. Since it is electric and electronic, I am a little bit skeptical.

Pati Sandstrom
Olympia, Washington

A lot of pressure cookers are advertised as being able to be used as a canner, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Get a canner for canning. I’ve gotten in the habit of either fixing quick meals from my “meals in a jar” in the pantry, which are already cooked and canned or else doing things the old-fashioned way using the oven or stove top. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning Chicken a la King and making your own potting soil

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Canning Chicken a la King

I made your Chicken a la King recipe yesterday and canned about 12 pints. I have a question though. The broth was about the consistency of milk prior to canning and after canning all the flour seemed to sink to the bottom. The flavor was good before canning. I used hard white wheat for the flour as who knows how many years my white flour has been around just in my pantry. Also, a couple of jars bubbled inside after they were cooled and washed. Do I need to watch those more closely? I may not have gotten it hot enough after adding the peppers prior to canning. I am starting tomatoes from seeds for the first time. Is it normal for the paste varieties to germinate more slowly than others?

Julia Crow
Gardnerville, Nevada

Don’t worry about your canned Chicken a la King. When you heat it to use it, just stir it and the flour will again mix with the broth. Also don’t worry about the jars having bubbles. You just had a few air bubbles you missed releasing before canning them. As always, check the seals on the lids before using all jars to make sure they’ve stayed sealed during storage.

It’s not “normal” for paste tomatoes to germinate slower than others but it is normal for some varieties to germinate slower than others, regardless as to whether they’re paste tomatoes or not. Hang in there; they’ll probably pop up soon. — Jackie

Potting soil

Should “store bought” potting products become unavailable or just too darned expensive, could I mix compost, moo poo, and just plain dirt (sandy in Fl.) to fill starter pots? Should this mixture be heat sterilized before use? I can find “recipes” for mixing bags of this and that, but not for using on-hand “dirt.”

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

Long before “potting soil” and “seed starting soil” became commercially available, Mom and Grandma made their own and they had very green thumbs. Skip the moo poo. You don’t want too much nitrogen either in seed starter or potting soil. You can always fertilize later on if that’s necessary with manure tea. Mix half and half compost and plain garden soil. Then put in large pans like turkey roasters and bake in the oven at 250 degrees or so for half an hour. Warning: this stinks! I used to call it baking worms. Yuck. But it sterilizes the soil so you won’t end up with such problems as damping off, mold, or fungal diseases. Right now, I opt for not “baking worms” but I buy PRO-MIX bagged soils. But if it becomes unavailable or too expensive, you bet I’ll be back to the old way. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Ah, Spring!

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Today it’s 65 degrees and sunny without much wind so it sure feels great. Will’s working on the barn, getting ready to put up our home-cut siding. Yesterday he worked on the sawmill all day, cutting ONE log. But that log was a huge spruce log that had to be cut down with a chainsaw to even fit on the sawmill! He’s putting first a layer of our free plywood up over the 2×6 studs, then adding furring strips on which to nail the vertical board and batten siding. The plywood is to prevent any slight drafts from getting through the barn. Inside, we’re going to add some insulation board that a friend found for us. It was a wonderful “deal.” We’ll be off to pick that up soon — a whole trailer load! Thank you, Mike!

I canned up bean soup last night after putting away 17 pints of baked beans first. Wow, that sure looks great in the pantry!

This morning we went to our friends’ house to disbud our new Nubian/Boer buckling.


He is simply stunning and so gorgeously marked; like a pinto-appaloosa horse. His mother and father were out of a buck and doe we used to have so we know his potential as a producer of great milkers on down the line. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s beautifully marked too! (No, he doesn’t have a roached back. Dara is just holding him still on the stump!) — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: enamel-lined Dutch oven with a chip and planting asparagus

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Enamel-lined Dutch oven with a chip

Is it safe to cook in a cast iron enameled-lined Dutch oven that has a chip in the bottom? Where the chip is located you can see the cast iron it is about the size of a nickel.

Cindy Dobbs
Prairie Grove, Arkansas

Yes, you can. Of course you can also cook in a full cast iron Dutch oven like I have. I’d just watch carefully to make sure that the remaining enamel is solid; you wouldn’t want it to flake off in your food. Usually, though, it is solid and you can use your Dutch oven for years that way. — Jackie

Planting asparagus

Gearing up for planting and would like to try my hand with establishing an asparagus plot. I have tried unsuccessfully in the past — I think 2x so far — so I am hoping 3rd time is the charm! Do you recommend any particular plants or vendors for buying the crowns? I am down in the Twin Cities, so somewhat similar conditions — a lot of clay (which last time I added a bunch of sand) and some severe temps. Also, do you prefer canning, freezing, or dehydrating the spears or just eating as you go?

Lisa Basso
St. Paul, Minnesota

We bought asparagus plants from Nourse Farms and have never seen nicer plants so we really do recommend them. Their website is We really had good luck planting them in a furrow with black plastic on either side to control weeds and bring more heat to the soil. HUGE, plentiful first-year spears! We can and dehydrate all of ours that we don’t eat fresh, but it does freeze very well. — Jackie



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