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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category

Jackie Clay

How about 30 below?

Monday, December 19th, 2016

We knew it was coming, but that doesn’t mean we like it. We spent two days doing “extra” chores, getting ready for sub-zero temps with highs in the negative numbers. Will hauled out several extra big round bales for the cattle and horses. I spread another square bale of hay in the goats’ inside pen and closed up a few cracks in the chicken coop.

Will and I also brought in several wheelbarrow loads of firewood and stacked it in the wood boxes and on the back porch. Luckily, last week David brought a truckload of discard wood that was dry from logs they’d cut at the log home mill and they were also piled on the enclosed back porch. We sure needed all of it!

We filled all the stock tanks, as generators are very hard to start in sub-zero weather. We also filled our big 300-gallon house water storage tanks.

That night, temperatures steadily fell. We spent the day making sure both the living room stove and kitchen range were burning merrily all day. Living in a log home, when you heat up all those logs, it acts as a heat sink and those warm logs radiate warmth for a long while. But we still had to take turns staying up to keep everything toasty. First I stayed up till one o’clock, then went to bed. Will got up at three and stayed up for several hours. At dawn it was -23 with a slight wind. The weather radio said the windchill was -42. But the house was toasty and all the animals and poultry fared well, so we were grateful.

David was renting a house in town with his friend. But when the rent was due to go up by $175, David’s friend bailed and David knew he couldn’t make the full rent — he was barely making ends meet as it was. He and his girlfriend, Ashley, want to buy a chunk of land to build a cabin on, but renting never left enough money to save up for a down payment. After much thought and discussion, we all decided it made sense for them to move back home with us as we have two bedrooms standing vacant and they could pay off some debts (such as student loans, etc.), then start saving money for a down payment. It just made sense to all of us. So now we’re all in the transition stage, with things being moved in and out, getting ready for the big move after Christmas.

We’re also finishing getting all of our seed varieties packaged and labeled as hopefully our new catalog will be hitting the press in a few weeks. We’re real excited about that.

Last night I made some venison stew and a batch of half-time spoon rolls and that sure tasted good. Later David and Ashley came over with some more boxes and cleaned out David’s old upstairs bedroom, getting ready to do some fixing up and then moving in. Afterward, we all worked on our owl puzzle, which we all agreed was the hardest puzzle any of us had ever done. Luckily, Ashley is a puzzle whiz so it’s finally getting together. Then it’s getting glued up as it will never go back in the box. We all agree that putting it together once was enough!


Today, the weather is more moderate with a high in the high teens … ABOVE zero! It feels like summer. What a relief. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We all had fun working off our Thanksgiving dinner

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

We had a full house for Thanksgiving. Bill and his family, David and girlfriend Ashley, and our other son, Javid, all came to help us eat turkey and tons of other goodies. What a pleasant day that was. We are truly thankful for all our blessings, especially including a wonderful family.

After dinner, Mason and Ava asked Uncle David to come out and help them make a snow fort because the snow was perfect for packing, and there was plenty of it. So creative David grabbed a plastic tote and headed for the side yard where there was plenty of undisturbed snow. He took the scoop shovel and tossed two shovels full of snow into the tote then Ava bounced up and down on it with her sitter-downer. Then David carried the tote to the fort area-to-be and carefully dumped it. Mason got to work and packed snow between the blocks. It wasn’t long until they had a great fort built, including turrets made by packing snow into a five gallon bucket.



Then Mason came in and informed me they needed a flag. I quickly taped an old flag onto a plant stake and they had a completed fort. Then the snowballing began. Will stood way out on the drive and bombarded Mason, in the fort, with snow. (Okay, they were more like snow puffs, not hard-packed snowballs. But Mason loved it anyway and they didn’t clobber him so hard.)


Ava dubbed the wire next to the garden gate as the jail so when someone got snowballed, they had to go to “jail.” What a fun afternoon!


Now the temperature has warmed up and it’s been raining for two days and staying above freezing all night. Much of our two feet of snow is gone, including, sadly, the snow fort. But the memories remain. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm today in preparation of our family’s Thanksgiving feast. I managed to do two of Will’s very favorite “pumpkin” pie made with Hopi Pale Grey squash, an apple pie, cheesecake, and pecan tartlets. And the garlic mashed potatoes are in the oven now so I just have to reheat them tomorrow.



Amid all the tearing around and feasting, please take time to be truly thankful for all we have. We homesteaders are a blessed lot!

I just had to show you another Hondo picture. Last night he was again up on the “bad dog” couch but he’d fluffed the pillows just right and plopped down with both his hind end and head on his favorites — with a big smile on his face. I think he was dreaming of turkey leftovers!


Happy Thanksgiving all! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Sunny, warm fall weather lets us get lots done

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Finally, finally, the rain has stopped. We’ve had four wonderful, sunny fall days. The leaves have turned and are all gold and red. Beautiful! Last Friday we had a pair of Whistling Swans stop for the morning on our beaver pond. We watched them glide around, enjoying their rest from their migration southward.


Meanwhile, I’ve been (surprise!) canning like mad. I just got a batch of thick pizza sauce finished, two batches of sweet corn, spaghetti sauce with meat, and Mexican corn (sweet corn with diced green and red sweet peppers and onions). Our late apples are ripe now so I need to switch gears and get lots of apple stuff canned up. We really love our Chestnut crab with its large, sweet, juicy apples and the Frostbite apple with cracking crisp, unusually good flavor. Both are hugely productive also!


I’m busy harvesting seeds from beans and tomatoes too. We are tremendously impressed with the Folsom Indian Ruin beans which are the biggest beans anyone has ever seen and also very productive. And yesterday I picked a batch of Enormous Plum paste tomatoes. Boy, oh boy, are they ever huge! We are focusing on more paste tomatoes this year as they can up so nice and folks need more of a choice than plain Romas. We’ve found several really great ones, including G. Chalmers Large Paste, Mia’s Italian Paste, Andes, Ten Fingers of Naples, and Speckled Roman.


The blankety blank cows got into our north garden and gobbled up most of the crops out there. What a bummer! It took days to get over that one. But we did and you can bet that won’t happen again! But they didn’t get into our pig pasture garden and I’m canning Will’s Seneca Sunrise sweet corn. (Yes, we had a bountiful harvest for seed so I’m allowed to can up the pig pasture corn!


Oh, by the way, Will’s head is healing well although he does have a monster head cold … unrelated. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Will and I will be attending the Homesteading and Sustainable Lifestyles Expo in Orr this weekend

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Will and I will be manning our Seed Treasures booth, showing some of the various crops we grow and answering questions as we pass out catalogs on august 20th and 21st. I’ll also have some of my books available for those who wish to purchase autographed copies. I’ll be speaking on gardening at 2 PM on Saturday and speaking about canning at 4 PM on Sunday. We’re expecting a great show as there are many workshops as well as vendors. The Orr Center is housed in the old school in Orr Minnesota, about 40 miles straight north, up Hwy 53, from Virginia, Minnesota. Check out the Orr Center’s website for more information at I hope to visit with you there!



Yesterday I picked a bucket of Norland apples to can up. They were starting to fall off the tree they were so ripe. Norland is a very productive fall apple. It’s tasty, early to produce and very hardy, but it doesn’t keep. So after giving my friend a pail full, I picked one for us and canned ’em up. I did keep out enough for a pie, of course. I wasn’t so sure how it’d work as it is a soft apple and might not make a nice pie. I was wrong! Although it was soft, it more than made up for it by being very tasty.


You should see our Hopi Pale Grey squash vines. They have entirely taken up the narrow bed they were planted in and are now climbing trees, the fence and the bank next to them. What vigorous vines! And I know they’re loaded with squash, too, as usual. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We got that hay up!

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

By the grace of God, we got another 18 big round bales up before the rain. That brings our total this year up to just under sixty bales. Now if we can just get the rest up…


I made a huge batch of mustard bean pickles out of the last bucket of Provider beans. Boy, did they ever turn out great. And since I overestimated how much vinegar/spices/sugar I’d need I canned up the leftover sweet and sour sauce in half-pint jars. My “mistake” let me have all this ready-on-hand sauce to dip chicken, pork, and fish in as well as to pour over chicken and pork roast as a glaze. (It really isn’t too mustardy … rather like hot mustard sauce without the “hot.”) We love it.


Our beans are producing like CRAZY lately. I planted more than 27 different beans this year on three gardens. Some are yellow, some green, some dry, and others snap. Many are multi-purpose. All are doing excellent both in plants and the beans they’re making. We’re especially excited about a pole bean, Folsom Indian Ruin, which I was given while living in New Mexico. A neighbor knew we loved heirloom seeds and brought me a sample he’d found in a clay jar in his cow pasture, in the rocks of an Indian ruin. They’d been sealed with pine pitch and his son, who went to school at the University of New Mexico, took one and they carbon dated it back to 1,500 years! Some of those beans actually germinated!


These are a huge bean. The pods are like Kevlar so you couldn’t eat them as snap beans but the young beans are tender and make great shelly beans. As a dry bean, they are also tasty and swell up nearly the size of a ping-pong ball! (You have to mash them or slice them to eat them.) We’re so tickled to be able to pass them on this year as our row of beans are simply going crazy with both blossoms and pods. Actually, I’ve NEVER had so many blossoms on a bean in my life! Talk about production. No wonder those ancient Native Americans took the trouble to store them so well — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: frozen melon and canning hominy

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Frozen melon

Our cantaloupe produced wonderfully last summer. My wife was able to freeze a bunch of it. My wife uses the frozen melon in smoothies and ice cream and such. But we still have a lot in the freezer. Do you have any ideas for additional ways to use our frozen melon? Or any ideas for additional ways to put it up?

Ben Blair

Here’s one for you:

Muskmelon cheesecake

1 graham cracker pie crust
2 8 oz packages cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
1½ cup blended frozen muskmelon

Combine cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice in large bowl. Beat until fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Transfer into graham cracker pie crust. Whiz frozen muskmelon in blender until smooth. Turn out on top of cheesecake. Put in freezer until barely frozen; about an hour. Take out and top with whipped cream if you wish. Serve at once.

Anyone have any other ideas? — Jackie

Canning hominy

I bought a #10 can of hominy and want to re-can into smaller jars. In a 2014 entry you said to process pints for 60 min., qts. for 70 minutes (10 lb. pressure). Earlier (2012) you had instructed using 10 lb. pressure; pints for 55 min., qts. for 85 min. Are the newer times a revision for re-canning this? I want to be sure I am doing the right thing.

Judith Almand
Lithia, Florida

There are sometimes slight variations on processing times, set forth by experts. I process my hominy at 10 pounds pressure, for 55 minutes (pints) and 85 minutes (quarts). It’s always been extremely good at those times. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: planting seedlings and non-electric range

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

Planting seedlings

I read your post this morning and in answer to using peat pots you included some information new to me. If your seedling is leggy you plant it deeper when moving to a larger pot or garden. I had beans that sat too long in starter cups (having had the flu for days!) When I set them out into the garden it was very windy the next day and several were broken. Does this hold true for all veggies, and how deep can I place them? Hope that you are feeling better.

Judith Almand
Lithia, Florida

I, personally, haven’t done it with beans … yet. But I really can see no reason it wouldn’t work. In New Mexico, I’d put a tin can with both ends cut out over young veggie starts that were tender so the wind wouldn’t break them off and damage the leaves. I chose cans that were just a tiny bit taller than the plants — that worked well. Yes, I’m definitely feeling better and raring to go! — Jackie

Non-electric kitchen range

We live in a conventional, grid-tied house and have really been enjoying our small homestead for over four years now. I try to do a lot of canning, and we have a large family of 10 children. We have a kitchen that is in need of remodeling, and that is where I am hoping you can help me. I am trying to think of things that would be really helpful in canning or other types of food processing. I will have a large kitchen, which is helpful when you have a big family. I intend to get a new range as my current range is powered by electricity. As we don’t have natural gas where I live, I am planning to use propane. I am even considering making sure I have more than just a standard 4-burner range (maybe 2 ranges) as there have been many times that I find myself trying to can something using both large burners and would also like to have a pot of soup going for dinner. I never seem to have enough stove room when I am canning. Anyway, do you have any thoughts as to a good range for use with propane or what I should be looking for. Unfortunately, I am not at a time in my life where I feel like I could use a wood stove for cooking. I would like to be able to rely on my stovetop at least during a power outage, but if I could use the oven too, that would be a big bonus. Any other thoughts you have in regards to designing a kitchen that is great for canning would be appreciated!

Rebecca Whisonant
Chester, South Carolina

There are several high-end ranges that are out of my price range with commercial ovens and extra burners. For me, I want heavy burner grates next time. The ones on my stove are lightweight and wiggle around too much, making sliding heavy pots difficult. I also like a range with standing pilots, which are hard to find now. Ones with electronic pilots are fine if they have back-up battery operation but most do not. In a power outage, you can still light the burners but the oven usually won’t work. You might consider one range and a built-in counter cooktop. A lot of folks use them in island installations and I really like that because they are usually lower, making canning much nicer for shorter or older folks. Lots of counter space is always a plus as is a single deep sink instead of the usual double sink. Large pots and cookie sheets fit flat in my sink and I LOVE that! Lots of drawers are also a plus as you can keep all your canning supplies, lids, jar lifters, lid lifters, funnels, etc. in one drawer and rings in another. The best of luck with your remodel! — Jackie


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