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Archive for the ‘Cooking/Recipes’ Category
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Doing chores in freezing weather
I have been following your temperatures almost daily and I wonder how you do your chores with such very cold temps. Must be a challenge. And how do your chickens manage in the sub zero temps? With the short days and little sun, like many of your readers, my thoughts turn to gardening and seeds. I would love to hear more about the seeds you are planning on offering for sale so I don’t order them somewhere else. It will be another income source for you and Will and I want to make sure I give you most of my business. Any more pics of Hondo and Spencer? How much does Hondo weigh now? All the best Christmas wishes to you and Will and David.
Yep, we’ve got unusually cold temps right now. We don’t usually get this cold until after Christmas.
We do our chores in segments: water the goats up here, grain them, then give them hay. Go into the house and warm up. Water the chickens and feed if the feeder is getting low. Water goats down in the goat pasture. Go inside and warm up. Grain goats in goat pasture and give them hay inside so they use extra for bedding. Go inside and warm up. You get the idea. Not so bad when you do it that way, although it does take longer. Watering the animals down by the new barn is more of a chore, taking several hours. (Heat water lines by running generator to power heat tape inside lines for an hour. Meanwhile do something else.) Dig out hoses. Open hydrants in barn and by generator shed. Turn on well. Water animals as needed. And so on.
Our chickens and turkeys are in their small coop. It’s pretty well closed up in the winter although they get out on nicer days. Because it’s small and there are quite a few bodies inside, it doesn’t get awful cold. We keep it well bedded with wood shavings.
Yes, we’re thinking about seeds too as we’ve already gotten several seed catalogs. Thank goodness it gives us something to look forward to. (I buy a few all winter so it’s not so spendy later on!) We’re planning on offering the following seeds (and some more as we see how others germinate and hold out): Tigerella (large red and yellow striped cherry-type, early), Old German (big beefsteak, yellow with red striping throughout; very sweet and great taste), Italian Tree Tomato (that huge red beefsteak with wonderful flavor), Bill Bean (old Italian huge beefsteak that’s become one of our favorites), Cherokee Purple (big, sweet, fairly early slicer with great coloring), Hopi Pale Grey squash (ancient, very rare, excellent keeper — two years +) and Howden pumpkin (which is a C. maxima and shouldn’t be grown anywhere near Hopi Pale Greys if you want to save seed). Also Provider bush green beans and Dragon Tongue (flat bush bean with yellow with purple stripes that go away when you blanch, cook, or can — great flavor! Again, we may offer more but we’ll have to see. Thanks for thinking of us. Yes, any homestead-generated income is looked forward to around here; it makes more projects possible!
I will take more pictures of Hondo and Spencer. Hondo weighs about 25 pounds now and is very long-legged. He’s only four months old and looks to be a BIG boy!
And a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours, too! — Jackie
Using frozen strawberries
I have an abundance of frozen strawberries in my freezer. I would like to make something that I can give as gifts by canning, but I’m a little tired of jams. I’ve seen a couple of recipes for strawberry vinegars but they call for fresh strawberries, not frozen and I don’t know if they are good for canning. Do you have a recipe for something like that or some other suggestion for using frozen strawberries?
How about making strawberry preserves and spicing them up by adding 1 tsp. almond extract and chopped pecans just before ladling into your hot jars? This is pretty, different, and real easy too. For those who you’ll see or visit just before Christmas, how about making a simple cheesecake like Will’s Cheesecake on page 182 of my book Jackie Clay’s Pantry Cookbook. If you don’t have the book, here’s a brief run-through:
1 graham cracker crust, unbaked
2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar (may add more to taste, up to 2 cups)
2 cups frozen strawberries, sugar added
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
Mix first six ingredients in medium bowl, whipping well. Put in graham cracker crust. Cover and set in freezer to stiffen up. Meanwhile, drain juice off thawed strawberries. In small saucepan, mix water and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring well until thickens. Add strawberry juice; mix well, then add strawberries. Heat and stir until it makes a thick glaze. Cool to room temperature. Ladle over frozen cheesecake (the cold helps it quickly stick in place). Put in freezer again, covered until you wish to gift it. It’s something everyone loves! — Jackie
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Chili sauce too hot
I have just made some fermented chili sauce that I would like to can. I made it too hot and I am wondering if you have any suggestions for making it a little bit milder before I can it.
You can take the “too salty” out of a soup with a chunk of raw potato, take grease out by letting it cool, but as far as I know there’s no way to take the “hot” out of a too-hot chili sauce. Any readers out there with any ideas for Deborah? — Jackie
I had an amazing bounty of cabbage this year which I have made into kraut. I can’t believe how juicy it is! My question is in regards to the juice/brine. After canning up close to fifty quarts I have a lot of brine left in my 12 gallon crock. What can I do with this? I love to braise pork in sauerkraut juice. Am I able to can this leftover brine to use for that purpose? Any other tips?
Congratulations on your cabbage crop. Ours was terrific, too. Yes, you can put up your leftover brine provided that is clean and scum free. Just can it in a boiling water bath canner by first heating to 185-210 degrees (don’t boil), then pour into hot jars and process for either 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts. Then you’ll have plenty to braise your pork. — Jackie
I have tried multiple biscuit recipes. They generally turn out moist and tasty, but crumble. Any pointer on what I am doing wrong?
First, use cold butter or shortening. I prefer to use buttermilk instead of milk for the liquid as they seem less crumbly. When you knead your dough, knead it briefly; over-kneading makes crumbly biscuits. And finally, you want an almost sticky dough; add just enough flour while kneading so it doesn’t stick to your fingers, not so it gets drier like bread dough. If these don’t do it, try adding 1 tsp yeast to your room temperature liquid, along with the baking powder called for. This makes a roll/biscuit hybrid that tastes like a biscuit but holds together real well. Here’s hoping for plenty of hot biscuits on your table that don’t crumble away. — Jackie
Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Baking sourdough bread
I have your Pantry Cookbook and am baking the Sourdough bread on page 128 using the Sourdough Starter II from page 127. So far all is wonderful. My question is that in the bread recipe itself, you indicate kneading the dough, forming a loaf, and then baking immediately. Is there a rise step missing or doesn’t it need it?
While this bread can be baked immediately, it’s better if the loaf is rested and let rise about an hour for a lighter bread. I should have made this notation. Sorry. — Jackie
Have you dill pickled peppers? We grew the small red, yellow and orange sweet peppers this year and had so many. I was making dill pickles and thought I’d try some sauce over the peppers. They are so good! I use Mrs. Wages powdered mix. It is very good, regular dill and kosher with garlic, and makes making pickles so much faster and easier. I also made a sweet pickle sauce and cut up hot peppers into the sauce. That is really good too. You get that combination of sweet with a zap! We’ve been using the sauce, which gets the zap to it too, for salad dressing.
No, I haven’t but it does sound great. I’m always up for new recipes, obviously. I’ll sure give it a try next year. Thanks for the new idea. — Jackie
Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
Saving squash seeds
I harvested basketball sizes of Hopi squash this fall — and we had the squash for our Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend. You are absolutely right — DELICIOUS. Quick question regarding saving seeds — is there a test I can do to see if they are dry enough to store. Can I then vacuum pack them?
I will also send some back to you to replenish your stores (there was no other squash type plant in my garden this year so the seeds should be a “pure” strain)
Farmgirlwanabe (M. Blaney)
I’m sure thrilled that you got a good harvest of your Hopi Pale Grey squash. When the seeds are completely dry, a paper-like husk will shed off the seeds. I would still put them in an airtight glass jar for a couple of weeks just to make sure that there is no condensation inside, indicating that they need to dry more. They are FAT seeds and require more drying than do many other kinds of squash and pumpkin seeds.
Thank you for offering to send some of your seeds back to me. However, I really don’t need them as we harvested 90 big squash this year! Tons of seed. Instead, why don’t you offer them to some of your other gardening friends so they can help us keep this great squash alive and kickin’? It was ALMOST extinct! Thanks to folks like you, it’s climbing back to safety. — Jackie
Hopi Pale Grey squash
Thank you for your article on senior living for homesteaders. I envied your picture of what appeared to be Blue Hubbard and Butternut squash. I can hardly get past early summer with summer squash and infestations of squash bugs to have my winter squash mature. I have tried chemical pesticides such as Sevin, and the organic methods such as Dawn dish detergent in the exact amounts given to me, but have had no luck at all. I hand pluck and destroy and remove all eggs on leaves, but to no avail. What is your secret please?
Silver City, New Mexico
The squash is one of our rare Hopi Pale Grey squash. We’re lucky that we don’t have squash bugs but have had them before in New Mexico. I’ve had good luck dusting with Rotenone or Pyrethrins, being sure to dust under the leaves as well. They seem to come in “waves” so if you continue to protect your vines the bugs lessen with time. You do need to dust/spray after every hard rain or watering when you water with a sprinkler. We also picked the adults and removed eggs by hand. If you rake up your spent squash vines and burn them it helps diminish your infestation next year as they overwinter in the dead vines. I hope you have better luck next summer. — Jackie
Your book “Growing and Canning your own food” page 228. Apple-Walnut Cake. My wife, Glenna, asks if perhaps there is a misprint in the amounts in the recipe. The line where it says “Pour into a greased and floured 13×9 inch baking pan” My wife says it is not pourable, it is so thick she had to spread it down with a spatula, making her think there might be a mistake.
Nope, no mistake. “Dump” out in a pan sounds unpleasant so most recipes call for “pour” instead. This recipe makes a thick batter, thinned by the amount of liquid still in the canned apples. It is a heavy cake, not a light cake such as store cake mixes. — Jackie
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
I found this recipe on line. Is this a safe method? If so, how long will this last kept at room temperature?
Distilled water (A MUST SO IT WON’T TURN BROWN)
In the bottom of jars put a heaping teaspoon of salt, then a layer of green tomatoes, and banana peppers (I put a lot of peppers). Fill rest of jar with shredded cabbage, punching it down as you go, get as much cabbage in the jar as possible. Put as much pepper flakes as you would like and another heaping teaspoon of salt and fill with distilled water. Put lids on and store for at least 14 days before eating, no processing needed. I really like this recipe since it is not cooked it’s fresher tasting and not as sour as store bought kraut.
Other than making sauerkraut, I haven’t had much experience in lacto-fermented foods. However, that said, I did check into your recipe and found that there are many other similar recipes available. Be sure to “burp” your jars daily for a week or so as the bubbles created by the fermentation create pressure and need to be released. After fermenting to taste, I’d recommend refrigerating your ‘kraut. — Jackie
Best way to kill weeds
I am wondering about tips on killing weeds! Mom and I had fewer time to weed this year then we expected, thus there is a nice green carpet out there with all the dead plants. I am pulling the dead plants and large weeds. But, wondering how to best kill off the rest so next year there are less weeds. Should we spray it with something, we are going to till it up — but does that really kill all the dandelions?
You have a couple of options. First off, you can Roundup the green weeds, then pull the dead ones and bury them. Don’t put them in the compost pile as they are full of mature seeds and if your pile doesn’t heat up enough, they will be still viable when you use the compost. However, if you don’t want to use chemicals in your garden, I’d advise pulling and burning all dead weeds, then tilling up the garden every couple weeks until freeze up. In the spring, plan on using a heavy mulch of straw or use black plastic mulch to keep the weeds from getting the upper hand again. We had the same problem and after Will mulched the whole garden last year and this, we have very few weeds. What a good feeling! — Jackie
Monday, September 16th, 2013
Jar quantity and size
I purchased your book Growing and Canning Your Own Food. Good book but I can’t find where in the recipes for high acid food is the jar size and quantity of jars needed?
Also for the Boston baked beans recipe on page 180 of the newest version of the book (page 186 in the older version) the bean measurement is 2 quarts. How many pounds would two quarts equate to?
I don’t list the quantity of jars needed as this can vary a whole lot. I eyeball the prepared food and make a guess, fixing up more jars than I think I might need, just in case I’m surprised. Most of the recipes list jar size in the processing information such as “20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts.” Half-pints can also be used, using the time listed for processing pints.
As for the dry beans, remember the old ditty “a pint’s a pound the world around” so if you need two quarts, that’s four pints or four pounds, approximately. — Jackie
Good wood cookstove and off-grid water
My gardening and food preservation has come a long way since subscribing to Backwoods Home. I now face the following 2 problems:
1. I need a good wood cookstove for both heating and cooking if my electricity goes out. I am 5 miles from the nearest town, but during a blizzard it might as well be 500. Any recommendations and where to find one?
2. I will also lose my water as I am on an electric pump. The well people here say I cannot attach a hand pump to the current electrical one. Have you run across this problem and how did you deal with it?
Although you can find both new and used wood cookstoves on the internet, the best and cheapest way to buy one is locally. Put an ad in your local free shopper and post notes on bulletin boards in your area. I’m sure you can find a good one at a reasonable price. Do be sure that it is all there with no missing lids, doors, or bridges (the little dog-bone shaped flat iron pieces between the lids). Also take a flashlight and examine inside the oven for rusted out holes and inside the firebox to make sure the grates have not been burned out (usually from extended burning of coal or hardwood). Local auctions are also a good spot to buy, but examine any stoves well before bidding.
You can not attach a hand pump to the electrical one (usually a submersible one) but if your casing is wide enough you should be able to slide a hand pump such as the one Bison pumps makes down alongside of the wiring/pipe of your current pump. If that won’t work for you, how about investing in a generator to power essential things such as your well pump. You wouldn’t have to keep it running all the time but only when you wish to draw water to store for a day or two. This is kind of what we do as we are off grid permanently. We have two 300-gallon storage tanks in our basement and our house water is drawn from them by a little 12-volt pump which gives us water pressure 24/7 without having to run our generator more than a few times a week. — Jackie
Friday, August 30th, 2013
Pressure canner gauge
I took the gauge from my older All American Canner to be tested. It read 7, 12.5 and 18. I had been canning with it (chicken, cubed beef both raw pack and ground beef, cooked). I canned somewhere around 10 to 12.5 pressure because the canner seemed ‘happier’ there. But now I’m concerned. I canned A LOT of food! Do I have to throw it all out since I’m not positive I maintained 12.5 as they suggested? If not, what do I look for or what do I do when I use the food? I bought new gauges there that tested spot-on. But only the Presto Gauges did, The All American gauges were all off, some worse than the one I took off my canner. She said it’s in the shipping, All American ships them all in a big box and Presto Packages each gauge in its own box and Styrofoam and she finds that they are always off. Wish I had taken my gauge from the new canner I bought this year, so I bought a new presto gauge for it too, which tested spot-on. Anyway, did I spend weeks canning for nothing and wasting money on all that meat?
Olmsted Falls, Ohio
I’m a bit confused. Did you take the weight or gauge, as the gauge has indicator markings from zero to twenty pounds where the weight only has the 5, 10, and 15 pound settings. Canning at 10 pounds pressure is the recommended pressure for canning unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet. Then you must increase your pressure a bit to suit your altitude as recommended in your canning book. My All American gauge is always right on and it’s 11 years old. Where did you get the gauge tested? You can buy new gauges right at your local hardware that stocks canning supplies and those are shipped in individual boxes if you must replace a damaged one. I’ve only had to do this once as I stored my lid upside down and water got in it and ruined the gauge. You don’t have to throw away your food as you canned it at 10-12.5 pounds as your altitude is 774 which is under 1,000 feet so your recommended pressure is 10 pounds pressure.
As always check your seals, the appearance of the canned food, its smell on opening, then bring to boiling temperature for 10 minutes before eating. — Jackie
Peeling winter squash
We hope we have several weeks left for winter squash to continue to grow but are planning to save some and to cube and can some as well. Do you have any tips on peeling and cutting up the squash? My hands always get slimy, making it potentially dangerous to be working with a large, sharp knife cutting through the tough squash.
What I do is cut into the squash with the point of a large, sturdy knife then rock it back and forth, forcing it down as I rock it, cutting the squash in two at its “waist.” I then lay aside my knife and scoop out the insides and seeds, saving the seeds on a cookie sheet if I’m going to save seeds, then discard the “guts.” I scrape out the inside of the squash with a large spoon to remove any strings. Then I wash my hands and dry them. I take up my knife again and cut each half in two crosswise, leaving me four pieces. I set each piece down on a cutting board and cut 1-inch rings from the whole piece. Then I take a smaller knife and peel each ring. From then on it’s easy to cut 1-inch pieces from each ring. Done deal! — Jackie
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Canned fruit turning dark
Is there any way to keep canned apples and pears from turning darker after canning? I have used Fruit Fresh and they can up beautifully, but after a few months they start turning dark. They taste great just look darker. The canned pears in the stores don’t seem to turn dark. What am I doing wrong?
You aren’t doing anything wrong except storing them where there is some light. Even a light bulb on frequently will cause light-colored canned foods to darken. Store-bought canned pears are in tin cans which exclude all light. The ones in jars have been recently canned and stored inside cardboard boxes (cases) until put on the store shelves. Keep ‘em dark and the pears and apples will remain lighter in color. — Jackie
I made 2 dozen pints each of peach and blackberry jam. I used my pressure cooker as a water bath pot. I could not get it to a heavy rolling boil on my glass-top stove — even leaving it on high the entire time. It was boiling but not what I would call rolling. Is this hot enough? The jam is so yummy and all jars did seal properly.
As long as the water was boiling, you’re good to go. Did you set your lid on the canner? That retains heat and helps get the water boiling faster and hotter. Of course you don’t lock it down, but just set it into place. — Jackie