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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category

Jackie Clay

Q and A: canning spaghetti and storing water

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Canning spaghetti sauce

We like to use Prego and Ragu sauces and add meat for our pasta meals. Can we pressure can the store bought/meat added sauces? If so, what times and pressures would we use at sea level?
David Rowland
Summerdale, Alabama

Yes, you can but I much prefer to make my own spaghetti sauces from scratch as not only are they MUCH cheaper but you know exactly what’s in your food. To re-can store-bought spaghetti sauces with or without meat, simply dump them in a large pot and bring almost to a boil then ladle out into jars and process for the same times recommended for freshly made sauces. For spaghetti sauce with meat, that would be 60 minutes (pints) or 70 minutes (quarts) at 10 pounds pressure. — Jackie

Storing water

My home is on a water well. I have several water storage containers for emergency uses. I use 1/8 tsp of Clorox per gallon for sanitation. (1) Can the treated water be consumed without further filtering or boiling? (2) Can the treated water be used to water vegetables? (3) I assume the treated water should not be flushed into the septic system. (4) How long will each Clorox treatment last?

David Read
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Rather than adding the chlorine bleach to the storage containers containing water, consider just keeping an unopened gallon of relatively “new” unscented bleach in your water storage area. Then if it becomes necessary, add the 1/8 tsp of bleach to each gallon. Yes, you can consume the water without further filtering or boiling. And, yes, you can water vegetables with the water but if you don’t add the chlorine to the water in storage, you could use the untreated water for vegetable watering. Once treated, the chlorine water should stay pure indefinitely if left unopened. But, again, I’d opt for treating the water if and when needed. Sanitize the containers first, before adding the water. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: using horseradish and wormy ham

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014


I started growing horseradish a few years ago, but had a hard time getting it to take off. Similar to the problem with my asparagus, but that’s another issue. I have found that turning this southern Ohio clay soil around has been a longer than expected process. The chicken manure and bedding each fall and kitchen compost have helped. My soil is starting to have some ‘color’ to it!
This year, wow, the horseradish is crazy-big and has spread. My question is: Other than grating it to use table side, or canning small jars (even for gifts), what way can I make this root an asset to our table? Suggestions or recipes?
Thanks for your dedicated blogging and wonderful articles in the magazine. I started as a magazine subscriber, and now a kindle subscriber and feel like I know you from your articles. For me as a part time homesteader/hobby farmer you are the inspiration I need to keep working for the lifestyle balance of work, home, and family that I need to be happy and healthy! It is worth it.

Jennifer Brown
Logan, Ohio

Thank you Jennifer. I really do enjoy helping people be more successful at homesteading.

Horseradish is useful in so many different ways. I use it as an ingredient in many dishes, adding it to sauce over baked fish and chicken, using it in sandwich spreads, making a cheese, mayo, sour cream, bacon, and horseradish chip and veggie dip, casseroles, and of course cocktail sauce (ketchup and horseradish mixed). You can also mix it with sour cream and top baked potatoes. There are dozens of recipes available online, too. — Jackie

Wormy ham

My daughter opened a jar of ham she canned this past winter, she dumped it along with the broth in the jar into her skillet and boiled it for 30 minutes, cooked off the broth and let it fry a little. Her family ate half of it, promptly put the remainder in the refrigerator and two days later when her husband went to warm it up, he noticed tiny little worms on it. He opened the ham strips and they were inside it too. When initially canned, the ham was pressure canned for 90 minutes. On top of that it was a precooked ham to begin with! How is it possible for anything to survive being browned, processed for 90 minutes, sealed, boiled for 30 minutes and fried again? Have you ever heard of this? I sure haven’t and I have been canning for 35 years. She didn’t add anything other ingredients to her ham when she cooked it for supper, so just the ham and broth. It was delicious though, but, ech, stomach turning upon the gruesome discovery.

Jo Riddle
Vienna, West Virginia

Nothing will live through pressure canning then boiling/frying. The worms were probably fruit fly or housefly maggots. Evidently flies laid eggs on some of the meat and the refrigerator wasn’t cold enough to prevent the eggs from hatching. The tiny worms would be just-hatched larvae. Tell your daughter that they didn’t eat wormy canned food. At least that’s something. This is very rare but I’ll bet they really check their food in the future! Ech! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: shelf life of yeast, chicken coop door, and canning pears

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Shelf life of yeast

I have been searching to find out the shelf life of yeast. I have one jar that is for bread machines. Is it possible to use it to make a regular loaf of bread? I also have active dry yeast but I’m not sure how long is it good for after the expiration date. I grew up on farms. Had my own until circumstances made me go into apartments. I do try to “keep things simple” but do not have a garden. I have learned self-sufficiency for apartment living quite nicely. I had fear of losing my job the last 5 years to perfect this new life style. Now that I have made it to retirement I am going thru my collection of foods. I enjoy all the Jackie Clay emails, Q&A’s and books. Keep up the extremely important work you do. It’s been joy & tears as I’ve watched all your life changes.

D. Whirry
Waukesha, Wisconsin

I’m happy that you’re still homesteading, even though you’re in an apartment. Will was living in an apartment when we met via mail but he still was growing container gardens in his windows, including oak trees and pole beans!

Yes, you can make regular bread from bread machine yeast. It’s the same “animal.” Yeast is usually good when stored at room temperature, for about a year. When frozen, it remains good much longer. I usually have a pound of yeast on the pantry shelf to use daily and another in the freezer. I’m glad you made it to retirement without losing your job. That happens too often today, where one works for years at a “good” job, then is let go when nearing retirement age. Not fair! — Jackie

Chicken coop door

We need a new door on our chicken coop. One with a handle on both sides since we accidentally locked ourselves in it this winter! Thank goodness for neighbors that need a good laugh when they come and let you out! We live in central Wisconsin and had the winter of all winters with lots of cold air this year. (I am sure you know what we are talking about) Our door right now is a piece of plywood. So what kind of door do you have on your chicken coop? I cannot find a picture of it on this blog. Can you suggest how to make one? Do you think plywood with 2x4s will be sturdy enough? Even with a plain plywood door all of these years the ladies have kept themselves warm.

The Bill Bean tomato plants are doing just wonderful from the seed that we bought from you. Can’t wait to try one. Thank you for posting the beaver report. So far I think we have a lot more rain than the beavers planned on. But we do need to make it through July!!
Cindy Hills
Wild Rose, Wisconsin

Our current chicken coop door is made of one-inch rough sawn lumber and 2x4s. I have a hook inside and out so I can’t lock myself in. Although in our chick raising coop, the door kind of drags on the bottom and once it stuck shut with me inside and I had to yell for Will to come let me out, so I know how foolish you felt! When we build our new cordwood, insulated chicken coop we’ll have an insulated door made of 1″ lumber and 2x4s with insulation board sandwiched between layers of 1″ boards for added insulation. And we’ll have a hook inside and out!

I’m glad your Bill Bean tomatoes are doing good. Ours are too. My biggest one is over 3½ feet tall already!

Yeah, those beavers. But, like you say, we still have a lot of summer left over so we’ll see. Right now, we’re having way too much rain. — Jackie

Canning pears

I am confused about canning pears. My neighbor’s tree is loaded (unknown type) and he says I can have all I want. Are they supposed to be fully ripe to can? Did I read that canning pears are picked firm and if so then how do you know when to pick them?

Sheryl Napier
Newport News, Virginia

I can ripe pears. But I do like to eat them when they’re a bit crunchy. You can can them either way. Just eat one to see if it is ripe enough. A ripe pear tastes sweet and juicy. A green one tastes BLECYUCKY. Lucky you, Sheryl! Just think of what you can do with all those pears. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Root worms and using a bread bucket

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Root worm

I’ve come to the realization that I have root worm in my cauliflower and broccoli plants! I’ve been treating with Diatomaceous earth. The plants are in milk crates. Do I need to dump the dirt, remove the landscapers fabric, scrub then reline and refill with new soil? The plants started out looking so good but now, not so much.

Michele Gerdes
Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Many times you can get rid of root worm by using beneficial nematodes available through such places as Gardens Alive!. You just mix the powder with water and soak in the soil around your plants. The nematodes only attack harmful worms, not earthworms. And they are not harmful to you, either. Other than that, starting over as you suggested may be the only cure. I’d either sterilize the soil you fill your crates with by baking it in the oven at 250° F for 20 minutes or use commercial potting soil so you don’t start out with the same problem. If you used garden soil, I’d advise using beneficial nematodes in your garden or where you access your soil for your containers to avoid future problems. The nematodes multiply and stay around as long as there is “prey.” — Jackie

Using a bread bucket

After the article about bread buckets, I purchased one. All went well until the part about leaving the dough in the bucket to rise. Most recipes I’m familiar with say to lightly grease the dough and bowl it will rise in. Is this step necessary, I took my dough out of the bucket , placed it in a greased bowl, lightly greasing the top of the dough,and proceeded as usual. Will it be ok to skip this step? I was too chicken to try it minus the light greasing.

Margaret Jensen
Branchville, South Carolina

Sure you can skip letting the dough rise in the bucket and use a bowl. I’ve never been lucky enough to own a bread bucket, myself. Lucky you! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: cookings beans at a high altitude and Tattler lids

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Cooking beans at a high altitude

We moved to Deming, New Mexico for our retirement. We love it here but are having a very hard time making baked beans from any kind of dried beans. We have tried crock pot, but beans are still hard. I got a power electric pressure cooker but beans still are hard. Am I doing something wrong? I tried on line for recipe for Power electric pressure cooking strictly for beans and am unable to find any, I only find them for pressure cooker for stoves Would you know any thing about the electric cooker or give me a recipe for beans in a high altitude area?
Sandy Barber
Deming New Mexico

Are your beans fairly fresh? One of the most common problems with older beans is that they take forever to cook soft. I fight this by canning up my older beans from storage. They get nice and soft and are ready to dump out into a casserole to make instant baked beans any time I want. I have never used an electric pressure cooker, so don’t know anything about them. You are soaking your beans overnight, right? If not, they don’t get soft unless you can them. If your beans are fairly fresh, you only need to cook them slowly for a long time, adding more water if necessary to get them soft. I’ve lived at high altitudes several times and didn’t have trouble cooking beans, other than adding more time to the recipe. — Jackie

Tattler lids

I have purchased some tattler canning lids. I bought 2 dozen standard mouth and 2 dozen wide mouth. A while back, I canned up 7 quart jars of milk at 60 minutes via HWB method. So far so wonderful. I like! I am at a low elevation (Texas, about 1,000 feet). I have been chatting with some that have followed directions (backed off 1/4 turn or so, then tightened upon removing) and they have had failures. I canned with standard size lids. The one gal did wide mouth, I don’t know what the others used. All were at 8,000 feet to 9,500 elevation. Do you know if elevation affects these? What elevation are you at?

No, elevation does not affect Tattler lids. We are at 1,400 feet elevation. I have friends at high elevations and they have not had trouble with the Tattler lids sealing so I’m not sure what these folks’ problems were. With any canning, you do get failures sometimes but frequent failures means that something is being done wrong and as I can’t be there, I can’t always guess what the problem was. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: enough salt to float an egg and canning zucchini

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Enough salt to float an egg

When using old time recipes I have run across the term “enough salt to float an egg.” My question is, does the egg need to float to the top of the water or just off the bottom?

Linna Straub
Springfield, Oregon

I’ve always added enough salt to float it to the top. How about it guys? Any other ways you do it? — Jackie

Canning zucchini

My zucchini is coming on strong! While I love my zucchini pickles, especially the curried ones, I am looking for a new zucchini approach and need your canning advice.
I plan to cook the zucchini down with onions, olive oil, a bit of balsamic vinegar and spices to the consistency of baba ganoush. I am concerned that, because it will be dense, it may not be safe. I plan to hot pack and pressure can it in half pint jars. How long and at what pressure should I use so that it won’t kill anyone?
Sharon May

You can put up your zucchini that way but I would not cook it down to the consistency of tomato paste, more like tomato puree and you’ll do fine. If you want it thicker on using, just finish cooking it down then. Follow the directions in your canning book for times and pressure for canning your zucchini. Remember that half-pints are canned for the same time and using the same pressure as pints. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: Extracting juice from fruit

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Extracting juice from fruit

It is Spring in Minnesota, finally! I am happy to see the flowers blooming on our black-cap and red raspberries. We are looking forward to harvesting them and the elderberries and our newly found mulberries. I have wanted to make juice from our apple tree and the wild berries, but have no idea how to go about it.

I guess I thought you would just use something like a cider press for the apples, or cook the berries then strain them through cheese cloth. People have “juicers” for veggies, and I have heard about “steam” juicers. Steam juicers range in price from $40 to more than $200. Can you please tell me how to make juice and what to use?

Cannon Falls, Minnesota

I used to extract juice as you suggested. But then I got smart! My friend, Jeri, had a Finnish steam juicer — a Mehu Liisa. She bragged that she got four times as much clear juice from the same amount of fruit that I did. That made me lust after one, for sure. Then at one of our seminars, I was gifted with one from the attendees. Needless to say, I was thrilled. And yes, you DO get much more juice from your fruit than by using one of the old ways (squeezing, straining, cooking, etc.). Now I feel like I threw away so much good food in the past by not using one. They are definitely worth the expense and will last a lifetime. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Q and A: dehydrating ground beef and DIY mixes

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Dehydrating ground beef

I would like to do this if you feel it is safe. Don’t want to “poison” my family!

1. Brown your hamburger in a skillet. While you are cooking it be sure to break it up well. You don’t want large chunks in your pan.
2. Once your hamburger is browned, drain all the grease from it. An easy way to do that is to use a colander.
3. After you drain as much grease out as you can, rinse the meat with boiling hot water until the grease is gone and let it drain again. You want as little as possible in your meat. Grease will make your meat go rancid pretty quickly. You want to avoid this at all costs.
4. After you have the grease out and the meat is well drained, put it in a clean skillet. Season your meat with whatever you choose to use. I use salt, pepper onion powder and garlic powder. Season it to your own taste. (You could make up different batches like “taco meat” or any other flavor) Continue cooking until all the moisture is gone. You want to get it as dry as you can without burning the meat.
5. If you are using a dehydrator, place your meat on the trays. I would use screens or fruit roll up trays so the meat doesn’t fall through. If you are going to be using your oven, put the meat in a baking pan about 1/2 inch or so deep. A cookie sheet or something similar works well.
6. Dry at 165 degrees for approximately 15 hours in your dehydrator. For your oven (if you can’t set it at 165 degrees) you may need to it at its lowest temperature. Put a spoon or something like it in the door to prop it open slightly. This will allow the moisture to escape as well a lower the temperature slightly. Stir every few hours to make sure it is evenly drying. When it is done, the meat will be dark brown and hard (like little rocks) with no moisture in it.
7. Store in air tight jars. You can use your vacuum sealer or O2 absorbers to draw out the air.

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

I don’t see any problem with this recipe but do make sure it is dehydrated very well — like little rocks — or it will mold in storage. Basically, it’s just crumbled jerky which we all dehydrate. (But if you dehydrate it so it’s still flexible like store jerky, it will not last long in storage. It needs to be very dry and hard like old-time dried meat or jerky. — Jackie

DIY mixes

I cannot find DIY recipes for packaged seasonings and sauces, such as taco seasoning, brown gravy, sloppy joe mixes. I would like to have these made up so I could quit buying the packets. Do you have a book (like your first cookbook) which gives the step by step instructions for these types of mixes?
Salem, Alabama

No, I don’t, mostly because I don’t do “mixes” but just put in seasonings to taste every time I cook a recipe. But I know of a few good books out there on making mixes that you might like. One, The 4.1.1. Cook Book Seasonings and Homemade Fixes by Dewayne Newburn is great and available on Kindle (only). You might also check out Make-A-Mix by Karine Eliason and others, available both in book and Kindle versions. — Jackie



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