Click here to ask Jackie a question!
Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.
Read the old Ask Jackie Online columns
Read Ask Jackie print columns
Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category
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.
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!
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
Wednesday, December 24th, 2014
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…
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
Well, we’ve got to go set out round bales so I’ll see you soon! — Jackie
Monday, December 1st, 2014
My oldest son, Bill, and his family came up to our homestead along with David and Javid. Together we made a happy feast of all those homestead foods. None of us had room for pie! I made two “pumpkin” pies from part of a Hopi Pale Grey squash (which I always use as it tastes great), an apple pie, and of course Will’s cheesecake.
I guess David hadn’t had any good home cookin’ for awhile as right after dinner he went in the living room, sat in my chair, and fell asleep for two hours — with all of us chatting in the same room!
For the last week I’ve been having severe lower abdomen pain and made two trips to the doctor, finally having a CT scan on Friday. Of course, after surviving cancer that’s always right on your mind. Luckily it was not cancer but diverticulitis, an inflamed pouch in my intestine. Funny — we always try to eat “good” with plenty of fresh vegetables, salads, and whole grains. Now I’m not supposed to have them as it will probably come back if I do. I’m NOT a white bread, processed food kind of gal so I see we have some adjustments to make. At least I got Thanksgiving dinner! — Jackie
Thursday, November 20th, 2014
Rendering bear fat
I have been looking for bear fat for three years and have finally acquired 20# this last week. Early 1900’s recipes indicate that it makes the lightest and fluffiest pastries. I intend to render it like hog lard, cooking low and slow for about 4-5 hours using 1/8 cup water to initially keep it from sticking to the stainless cooker, after cooking and pouring thru a double layer of #9 cheesecloth. I want to water bath or pressure can 1/2 pint jars to eliminate keeping it in the freezer. Can you offer any suggestions of which process should be utilized and for how long?
I’ve never rendered bear fat but I’ve put a lot of beef and pork lard in our pantry and can’t say that bear fat would be handled differently. What I do successfully is once it’s rendered and strained off, I immediately put it into hot, sterilized wide mouth pints or quarts (you could use half-pints but I use enough to like pints better). Wipe the rim of the jar off very well with a hot, damp cloth and immediately put a hot lid on the jar and screw down the ring firmly tight. I do not processing of these jars and they will keep, sealed for a long time in a cool, dark location. Some folks do process their lard in a pressure canner. You would use 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure to do this. (If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your pressure to suit your elevation.) — Jackie
Canning pepper sauce
I’ve looked through numerous pepper recipes and they all call for pickling, roasting, leaving whole or in pieces and then canned with water or vinegar. We have an abundance of peppers and one of our favorite (and quick and easy) ways to use them is to cut up and cook slightly in a small amount of water. Then put in blender with a bit of salt. Good on meats, eggs, and as a dip. For really hot peppers, I cut in half and remove seeds first. Red peppers are the best — sweet with a bit of heat. I was wondering if I could pressure can this. It’s about the consistency of ketchup (it will coat a spoon). I was thinking 35 min. for pints would work but I would hate to find a few months down the road all the bounty and work was for naught.
You could pressure can pureed peppers at 10 pounds pressure for 35 minutes if you don’t make a too-thick sauce, which would make it unsafe for canning. Remember to adjust your pressure to suit your altitude if you live above 1,000 feet. — Jackie
Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
I recently saw an ad for dehydrated oatmeal. Is oatmeal that I purchase from the grocery requiring a dehydration process to long-term store them? I had vacuum sealed some but left others in the store package. Any advice?
OMG, another marketing ploy! Plain old oatmeal is fine for long term storage. Oatmeal is dry or “dehydrated” already, needing no more treatment to store. And it stores for years and years! — Jackie
Canning sweet chili sauce
Here I am asking for help once again. I found this Chili recipe for sweet Thai chili sauce and it is so easy to make and good I would like to can it.
2 fresno chilis
2 Thai chilis
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup water
1/4 rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar (I used splenda)
After cooking this to thickening use 1 Tbsp. cornstarch 2 tbsp water mix then add to sauce. I got this from userealbutter.com
Boy, that sounds good! But search as I might, I can’t find anything similar in the “recommended” for canning archives. It’s so different. I would think that it would water bath for 15 minutes okay, but I sure can’t recommend doing so (and in this case I would use sugar, not Splenda for its preserving qualities) since you add 3/4 cup of water to the vinegar and you do have cornstarch, although not enough to make such a thick sauce as would be unsafe for canning. Sorry. — Jackie
Canning spaghetti sauce
Your spaghetti sauce with meat recipe calls for 30 lbs of tomatoes. I know it is sacrilege to ask, but since we do not have the space to grow enough tomatoes and store bought are running $1 a pound, can a quality precanned sauce be substituted? I can get #10 cans for approx $2.50 each and would substitute at one quart sauce for every 5 lbs of tomatoes. Would it also be possible to substitute Italian sausage for the ground beef? We are trying as many different recipes to cut cost in preparation for retirement.
You’d be better using sauce in #10 cans rather than store tomatoes as store tomatoes taste awful and it doesn’t improve in sauce. Not to mention the COST! Use the sauce as if it were freshly made when canning, using the correct time and pressure. Yes, you can substitute Italian sausage for the ground beef but you might use a little less due to the seasoning. You are very wise to prepare so well for retirement. And you’ll eat pretty darned good too! — Jackie
Sweet Dumpling squash
Do you think I could store not-quite-ripe Sweet Dumpling squash? I cooked a couple the other night and they aren’t quite ready but I’m nervous about leaving them too much longer in the garden.
Yes, you can store them, but Sweet Dumplings really aren’t a long-term storage squash. They will store best at room temperature, not in a root cellar or basement where it’s cooler. Leave them out until temps fall into the 30 degree range at night as they’ll continue to ripen even when the leaves have been frosted. — Jackie