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Friday, April 22nd, 2016 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »
Pressure canner or cooker
We bought an electric pressure cooker/canner (Power) with the understanding we could use it for canning vegetables. Now online we are being told not to use it. Please help us out. Can we use it for canning or not. If not, why?
Sorry, but electric pressure cookers are not meant to can food even though the manufacturer indicates they are. They just aren’t exact enough to maintain correct processing pressure throughout the time required for canning; they tend to go up and down a little….too much for safe canning. It’s necessary to buy a pressure canner (which can also be used to pressure cook many foods). Not only are they safer but they are also much larger than the electric pressure cookers, allowing you to do more foods at once. If you can afford an All American, that’s the best but a Presto, which is much cheaper, will certainly do the job for you. — Jackie
I canned 14 half pints of homemade strawberry preserves yesterday. Opened one jar this morning to have with breakfast and it is too thick to spread on bread. Can my preserve be saved? If so how. I’ve made it many times in the past 5 years and this is the first time it’s come out too thick.
Chino Valley, Arizona
When jams and preserves are too thick, a quick “fix” is to just put the jar in a small saucepan, on top of a used old jar lid, then fill the pan up most of the way on the jar. Heat the preserves and they’ll soften so you can spoon them on your toast. Or if you let it soften more, you can pour it over waffles or pancakes. Don’t despair, goof-ups like this happen to us all. But, luckily, they’re mostly all edible! — Jackie
Thursday, April 21st, 2016 by Jackie Clay | No Comments »
One of our old Rhode Island Reds isn’t able to get on her feet since yesterday. She never even made it in the coop last night. She ate some mealworms and had a couple sips of water this morning but can’t seem to stand on her legs. She was old when someone gave her to us 5 years ago. She hardly laid an egg even then but she was a sweet garden buddy. We don’t want her to suffer. If this is something she won’t recover from, how do we humanely dispatch her? Remember, we are vegetarians, not used to “dispatching”.
You might try giving her oral tetracycline in water. While she’s probably on her way out naturally, this may help her recover at least for awhile longer. She may have picked up a bacterial infection which is harder on old birds. You can get tetracycline powder at your local feed store. Unfortunately, it’s meant for big flocks and it’s hard to figure out just how much to mix up for one chicken. We use one heaping teaspoonful in a quart of water. Mix well and give to her in an eyedropper several times a day. Keep her where it’s warm and dry meanwhile. Hopefully she’ll either recover or pass on so you’ll be spared having to dispatch her. — Jackie
Jars not sealing
I put up 9 pints of peas/carrots/potatoes and had 7 seal quickly. About 2 hrs. later one of the jars pinged closed. The 9th jar did not seal. My question concerns the unsealed jars of foods. I have read that the jars should be left undisturbed for 24 hrs. If at the end of that time is the jar that remains unsealed safe to eat? I have in the past put them in the refrigerator or freezer. I have concerns that food, especially something like chili, would pose health issues after being on the counter that long. What are the safe guidelines you follow for this?
I only let my jars stand until cool to the touch. If they’re not sealed by then, they won’t seal. At that time, you can put any which are unsealed in the fridge or go ahead and re-can them. With an unsealed jar left at room temperature, you usually wouldn’t have health concerns as the food was processed for the correct time. However, at room temperature, it would later go bad as you would guess. As with all canned foods, it’s safest to bring the food to boiling temperature (whether in a casserole, boiled, or fried) for 10-15 minutes before eating. — Jackie
Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 by Jackie Clay | 8 Comments »
Although it’s not sunny and warm, the temps are still hovering in the low 50s although it has been rainy and cloudy off and on. It puts a damper on spring fever. Especially when one of our doe goats delivered twins outside in the cold rain. She had not shown any signs of kidding prior to that, either. One kid was born dead and the other, a buck, was chilled and weak, unable to nurse or even stand up. I rushed him into the house and put him in a box next to the wood stove. Then I tore back outside and got the mother on the milking stand and quickly milked a quart of colostrum from her.
The buckling wouldn’t suck so I tube fed him about 2 oz. of warm milk. I repeated every two hours until he finally started sucking on the bottle. But last night he was very bad; I didn’t even know if he was alive but I still tube fed him, finding he was breathing but very, very lethargic. I didn’t expect him to last till morning.
He did. And this morning he not only took the bottle but actually sucked vigorously. Now he’s acting like he just might live, after all. We hope.
Will’s been peeling the long, black ash poles he cut in our woods for the front porch railings. There are three sections needing railings so he cut plenty so we’d be sure to have enough. Luckily, being green, they peel very easily. Now he’s finished and they are stacked with the other logs by the sawmill, drying. Hopefully, we can get the railings sanded, stained, and assembled soon.
I got my morning glories planted this morning after soaking the seeds all night in cups of warm water. That helps them get germinating faster as the seeds have a thick shell. I can’t wait to see them bloom. — Jackie
Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »
We had an entire week of sunny, very warm weather and boy, were we busy. (We knew it would not last as it’s too early!) While Will went with our neighbor to pick up some farm equipment he’d bought at an auction last week, I hopped on the tractor and graded the driveway. It went great for two passes. Then the tractor bogged down in a frost boil and stalled out. (For those of you who don’t know what frost boils are, they are patches of soil, usually clay, which froze solid with frost and suddenly thaw out, becoming very soft. Often the ground for yards around is spongy. It’s sort of like standing on a mattress and jumping up and down — it’s all waves and wiggles.)
I tried several times to start the tractor but no dice. That Ford is funny that way, often needing a few hours to “cool” off after hard work before it’ll start. Anyway, I turned off the key and started hiking back — nearly a mile, up and down hill at 75 degrees. Huff, puff.
When I figured it was getting time for Will to show up, I hopped on the four wheeler and ran it back, just in time to see Will pulling up with the Subaru. He jumped on the tractor and it started right up so he drove it out of the hole and I took it home while he ran the four wheeler home. Then we both came back to get the car. Long story short, the driveway graded nicely but that frost boil will need a week of dry weather to go away so we’re not planning on running in and out much! AND today it’s raining as it’s supposed to off and on all week.
Yesterday was so nice, Will worked again on the Kawasaki Mule, getting it ready. The carburetor had gunk in it and needs a fuel filter, which I picked up today. It’s getting close to being usable! I can’t wait. How handy that’ll be and what a cheap vehicle at $200.
I got two flats of peppers transplanted and in just two days they look SO good! I’ll be doing another flat soon as well as starting in our tomatoes. It’s looking like spring in the greenhouse for sure. Today I’ll be starting the Japanese morning glories I got from Baker Creek. They have huge blooms and I can’t wait to see them. Here in northern Minnesota we have to start them inside to get blooms by late summer. It’s a little more work but they’re worth it!
Lots of birds showing up around here. Today I saw a flock of a couple hundred robins in a field on the way home. And our pair of Canadian geese is on the beaver pond by the house. Every year they raise a bunch of cute babies and we feel like they’re family.
The frogs have started singing. The wood frogs were first, sounding like ducks quacking, then the spring peepers started the next night, sounding like far-away sleigh bells. How exciting! — Jackie
Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »
Finally, our cold snap has broken. I’m running around outside in a T-shirt. Hooray! I have to laugh at our wild turkey hen. At first she was terribly shy, running off when I got within 200 yards of her. Now she sees me coming and flies to the top of the chicken coop, then lands in the orchard, waiting for fresh feed. I just looked and she was scratching about in the grass (yes, we now have GRASS) with the tame turkeys. I wonder if she’ll lay eggs out in the woods or in the orchard?
Of course, our tom turkeys are strutting full blast now, each trying to look bigger and more gorgeous than the others. They huff up so big they seem like they’ll pop.
Will just got in from pruning our orchard and reported scarcely any winter kill on new twigs. The trees do look good and we are hoping to get a good crop of apples and other fruit this year. Last year, a late spring frost got all our fruit blossoms, including wild blueberries, raspberries, wild plums, and pin cherries. That sure was a bummer!
Little red rhubarb noses are poking up out of the soil — our first real sign of spring. I can’t wait! This afternoon I’m transplanting peppers. I was going to do it days ago but the Pro Mix was frozen solid as I kept it on the front porch outside. Now it’s finally thawed and warmed up — I didn’t want to use icy cold potting mix!
I walked into the big hoop house and it felt like summer. I really, really, really wanted to dig in the dirt. — Jackie
Monday, April 11th, 2016 by Jackie Clay | 8 Comments »
The weather radio said our temps were headed for a warm-up. All I can say is it’s about time! We’re tired of snow, wind, and cold. But at least our little seedlings are doing well inside. I even planted a few more, just because.
Will mounted one of the tires he’d repaired on our old Oliver. Aired up, it’s doing well. Only time will tell if it’ll work. But if it does, that’ll be a huge savings. If not, we’re not out much. And yes, we will always be careful airing up that tire as it could blow at any time.
Saturday, our new HUGE tractor was delivered. The mile-long driveway was so rough with ice, mud holes and bumps that Will had the man unload it at the end of the driveway so he wouldn’t have to navigate the drive with the tractor on his trailer. We were lucky — the day after Will bought the tractor, we listed the “old” IH 706 on Craigslist, got a call about an hour later and had it sold the next day. I HATE debt and having a loan on two tractors made me crazy! Will wanted the big 100 hp tractor as he was afraid he’d blow up our IH 706 plowing clay with our three bottom plow; it really had to work. Now we can safely plow and plant many acres of “borrowed” hay ground and harvest great alfalfa and clover hay, and some grain as well. I can live with that!
Our turkeys are starting to lay and we have a banty hen who has decided to become a mom. So tonight, I’ll put her and a couple chicken eggs in a cat carrier lined with hay, shut her in and see how things look in the morning. If she’s setting tight, I’ll replace the chicken eggs with the turkey eggs and let her sit on them. Hopefully, she’ll go ahead and hatch little turkeys. (If you just let a hen sit on eggs in the nest boxes, other chickens lay more eggs in that box and they get all mixed up and usually broken. We don’t try that anymore!
Hopefully by Wednesday the sun will smile on us again and we can get to work! — Jackie
Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 by Jackie Clay | 2 Comments »
It seems that this year, spring is dragging its feet. Or maybe we just got spoiled when it was 60 degrees a week or so ago? Each day brings another “fit and start.” One day four inches of snow and cold wind; another sun and melting; then more snow and 5 degrees! Through it all, our indoor seedlings are taking off. I’ve got a flat of peppers ready to transplant and the tomatoes are popping up.
Outside, there are some signs of oncoming spring though. Our squills in the front flower bed are popping up, with tiny blue buds. The patch of chives in the flower bed is already up (as are the first tiny lamb’s quarters!). And I’m seeing more and more migratory birds. Every day I’m seeing small flocks of robins and I’ve seen several kestrels (sparrow hawks) on the power lines.
I’ve ordered some daylilies and a few fruit trees, even a dwarf peach from Starks, which I’ll plant in a big tub to be brought in our unheated yet enclosed back porch for winter. As it’s a Reliance (Zone 4) it should do okay. Sometimes I’m dying for a fresh REAL peach!
I just discovered a wonderful website www.rafterbardmorgans.com that my sister, Sue, found. They have a grandaughter of our old Morgan stallion, Bragg, who was the inspiration for the Hawk in my western novels. Take a look if you love horses! — Jackie
Monday, April 4th, 2016 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »
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?
Here’s one for you:
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
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.
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