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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category

Jackie Clay

Another gray, gloomy, snowy day

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

We’re wondering what happened to the sun. Honestly, Minnesota is usually bright and sunny, even in the winter. Lately, not so much. Today is warmer, in the low thirties, but it’s very dark and cloudy, spitting snow. Again.

Son, Bill, came up to hunt Saturday afternoon and although he didn’t bag a buck, he did help Will set up our new fridge. Boy, was I excited as they got it moved into its final position and hooked up the LP and 12 volt wires, running downstairs to our old battery bank that still works but is just not enough to power the whole house’s needs. By the time Bill left Sunday evening, the freezer had gotten frost on the back.


While the guys were working on the fridge, I canned up 10 pints of small rutabagas. They do store well, but I always like to can up some anyway just so we are sure we have some later on. Once canned, they never get wrinkled and soft!


Unfortunately, this morning I opened the doors to find the refrigerator warm. No flame to the burner and the LED lights were flashing “no-co.” (We still don’t know what that means!) I texted Bill, who is an RV technician licensed in LP appliances, and he texted Will back how to re-start it. So he did and so far — cross your fingers and say a few prayers — it’s still working. I was disappointed but do know that some “free” things require a little work to get them up and running permanently.

In that vein, Will finally got the clutch apart for the Mule RTV so he could adjust it. He’s been working on that for months now, even taking it to our neighbor’s shop to use a press. But finally, as he was tinkering with it in his easy chair, it opened! So it looks like we just may have the Mule operational before too much longer.

In case the Wednesday blog doesn’t get up in time, I’m wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving and do take a moment to give thanks for all the wonderful things in your life. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: chestnuts, green beans, lima beans, and deformed peppers

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015


How do you use chestnuts? And do you can them as you do pecans or other nuts?

Joyce Pierce
Georgiana, Alabama

You can roast them and eat them for a snack but you can also roast, chop, and add them to any baked goods such as cookies, quick breads, and cakes. Many old-timers also used chopped chestnuts in poultry dressings. Yes, you can toast and can them like other nuts. Be sure to toast them in the oven for a longer time than smaller nuts so the insides get toasted too. — Jackie

Green beans

I canned up some green beans from my garden and they tasted bitter. We ate two pints of them and did not get sick, Would you know why they are bitter?

Chris Barr
Mathias, West Virginia

It sounds like your green beans have a condition called “flat sour.” While the beans are not poisonous, it is a type of food spoilage usually caused when foods aren’t picked and promptly canned up, even if they are held in the refrigerator. Personally, I’d dump the beans because they certainly aren’t tasty. Then next time, make sure you move right along, picking, preparing, and canning them right up. — Jackie

Lima beans and deformed peppers

I missed harvesting my Jackson Wonder Lima Beans while they were still green in their pods. They have all dried on the vine again this year. Can I still can these up as lima beans or should I use them in a chili or stew?

I also wonder if you could tell me why some of my peppers have tan “stretch marks” that deform the shape of them. They also seemed to produce far less this year. The whole garden suffered this year from the extra rain we got in spring. We usually get about 2000lbs and I think we finished at about 600lbs, but the peppers especially produced very little.

Jessica KoKerner
Fort Wayne, Indiana

You can now can up your limas as you would any other dry bean. Then they’ll be cooked and ready to use in any recipe.

I think you can blame the weather on the deformed peppers. Sometimes poor pollination, often weather-related, will cause not only deformed fruits but also less production. Peppers will often abort their flowers if it is too hot, making your total yield much less. Another example of “better luck next year!” Hang in there. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning dried beans and spicy carrot pickle recipe

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Canning dried beans

I have a question about canning dried beans. I canned kidney beans for the first time. When I use a jar now they are packed tight and not much fluid. What did I do wrong? I soaked them overnight. I pressure canned them. Maybe I put too many in a jar? Did I fill the jar too much? If you can give me an idea of what to do to have looser beans in the jar and more fluid I would greatly appreciate that.

I used pinto beans for baked beans and they did the same thing. Is there a way to stop the bean from expanding further?

Wild Rose, Wisconsin

Fill your dry beans no more than ¾ full after soaking them overnight. If you’re having too many packed beans, just add ½ a jar full and try that. Be sure to allow a full 1 inch of headroom as all beans will expand during processing. — Jackie

Spicy carrot pickle

Is there any way to make the Spicy carrot pickle recipe for diabetics?


You could substitute Splenda or another low/no calorie artificial sweetener for the sugar but add the sweetener just before packing the jars to keep it “sweet.” Let the syrup return to boiling before packing. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning garlic with green beans and adding meat to pintos when canning

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Canning garlic with green beans and adding meat to pintos when canning

Question one. Would throwing a couple large cloves of garlic in a jar of green beans while canning, be safe (considering the various warnings against canning garlic)? Question two. Since most recipes for canning dried beans don’t mention using meat, would it be okay to add a small amount of side meat or bacon to pintos when canning them?

Rick Gibson
Floyd, Virginia

I would not add the garlic cloves to your green beans. Too dangerous. You could, however add a little garlic powder for flavoring if you wish. The reason for this is that the garlic cloves are more dense, where the powder is simply a spice and is not dense. You can add a LITTLE bacon or ham to your pintos when you can, as you would, adding a LITTLE ham or bacon to baked beans you’re canning. But this is for a bit of flavoring. If you add more than a little, you must process your pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes to be safe. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: spicy carrot pickle and pine nuts

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Spicy carrot pickle

I have your book Growing and Canning Your Own Food, and your other books, but can’t find a spicy carrot pickle recipe. Maybe you have one? Maybe something with onions and jalapenos? I absolutely love all your recipes and actually learned how to can from your book!

Draza and Regina
Miramonte, California

Here’s our favorite spiced carrot recipe, a carrot relish you can even eat as a side dish.

3 lbs carrots (12 medium)
5 medium green peppers
4 red jalapenos
6 medium onions
6 cups white vinegar
2 Tbsp. celery seed
¼ cup salt
6 cups sugar

Clean carrots and peel. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers, peel onions. Put all vegetables through a food chopper using a coarse blade. In a kettle, heat vinegar, spices, and sugar to boiling. Add ground vegetables. Simmer for 20 minutes. Pack while boiling into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch of head space. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. (This will make 8 half pints.) Hope you like this recipe. — Jackie

Pine nuts

First I would like to say I love reading your articles. I have used many of your recipes. My wife and I recently went up to the mountains and picked about a gallon of pine nuts. I read how good they are for you and noticed they are $20 a pound at our local health food store. I would like to know a little more about them and if you have any recipes.

Grand Junction, Colorado

Lucky you, Richard. I just love pinyon nuts. In New Mexico, we used to go up to the mountains and harvest them, making a picnic outing of it. You can shell and eat them raw but we liked to toast them. To toast them, you can either lay them in a single layer (shelled) on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven at low temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or soak them in water, drain, then sprinkle with salt. Then roast them as above. Pinyons (or pinyon nuts) are excellent in salads and vital for pesto sauce. They are a traditional great with lamb, veal, pork, chicken, fish, duck, and game birds. Pinyon nuts are also popular in stuffings, sauces, vegetables, soups, pesto, stews, sweetmeats, cakes, and puddings. I really liked to add them to simple sugar cookies. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: thawed berries and cooking Hope Pale Grey squash

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Thawed berries

First, I absolutely adore you and have followed you for years. I feel like a distant but loving sister.

My freezer failed and some of the berries defrosted then refroze (we think a mouse nesting in the coils caused it to overheat). Can I still use them to make jam/preserves/jelly or are they a total loss?

Claudia Barnard
Oldtown, Idaho

Claudia, I’m thrilled to be your new sister! If the berries still look and smell okay, taste a couple. If they haven’t fermented or started to mold because they were too long thawed and warm, they should be just fine to use for jams, etc. But if they are pretty questionable, toss ’em out, just to make sure. — Jackie

Cooking Hopi Pale Grey squash

Well now that you have Hopi squash growing around the country, what are some of your favorite ways to cook it? I ended up with 30 huge ones. I fried some up with potatoes the other day. Very tasty. I love the flavor. Thank you so much for your seeds.

Joni Warren
Canyon City, Oregon

Every day I find new ways to use this very versatile and tasty squash. One great way is to seed and bake it until tender. Then fry up some Italian sausage, onions and bell peppers. Put this mix in the bottom of a casserole dish and layer mashed, baked squash over it. Top with grated cheese. Pretty darned good!

I’m so glad so many folks have gotten Hopi Pale Greys grown and harvested. It was so close to going extinct that it scared me. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: saving seeds from beans, canning mayonnaise, and saving Hopi Pale Grey seed

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Saving seeds from green beans

I know you can let green beans go to seed and save the seed. My question is: Are they as nutritious as say Pinto beans? Can they be made into baked beans and taste the same? I planted some pole beans that we didn’t like so I’ve been letting them dry. Now I’m not sure it’s worth the effort to shell and keep the seeds. And of course I can’t remember what I planted so I will not repeat my mistake.

Becky McKim
Ankeny, Iowa

Yes, any green beans or other beans used for snap or shell beans can be dried and used as dry beans like navy and pinto beans. Yes, you can use them as baked beans, refried beans or any other use. Some are better tasting than others but that goes with any crop and also has a lot to do with the cooking method. Almost all old-timers used to do this and so can you. — Jackie

Canning mayonnaise

Looks like a wonderful crop for you this year…congrats. I was buying BOGO mayonnaise a few weeks ago to have on hand. I began wondering if you could can homemade mayo? Could I re-can large containers purchased at Costco? Thanks for your countless nuggets of wisdom and advice. We are beginning to settle on our new acreage…so much to do!

Judith Almand
Lithia, Florida

Sorry but mayonnaise and salad dressing are two things that I can’t find any solid, reliable information on canning safely. I’m sure it’s possible as companies sure can it. But because of the ingredients, it would not be safe to can at home without specific, safe recommendations. Congratulations on your move to your new homestead! What an adventure. — Jackie

Saving Hopi Pale Grey seed

This is my first time growing the Grey Hopi Squash here in Maine, I had a wonderful crop with minimal bug damage … I want to save the seed but I planted cucumbers about 50 feet away … will that impact the seed in any way?

Liz Stone
Newport, Maine

I’m glad you got a good crop of Hopi Pale Grey squash. Great, aren’t they? Nope, the cucumbers won’t cross with the squash so you’re good to go. When you save your seeds, harvest the squash and let them mature in a warm, dry area for a month or so, then cut one open, pick out the seeds, dry them on a cookie sheet on the counter and eat your squash. Enjoy! — Jackie

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



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