Yesterday, Will was clearing an old pile of rotted logging debris out in the brush, up by the mobile home for a farm implement/assorted stuff parking area. We wanted it out of sight as when parked all together, it looked junky when you came into the yard. Things went swell until he was done and was shoving two very large, flat rocks out into the yard for me to use in the future near my fish pond. All of a sudden, the left clutch didn’t work at all. In fact, it took him two hours to get the bulldozer 500 feet and parked in our shop. Giant “OH CRAP!” This winter, he had totally redone the right final drive and clutch pack.

So, today, while he started jacking the dozer up and taking things apart, I baked my “Famous Jackie Apple Pie.” Everyone raves over this simple pie, and I’ll tell you my secret. It’s in the crust. I DO use lard (and only bake one once in awhile!), and when I top off the pie, I rub butter on the crust, then liberally sprinkle brown sugar on it, then sprinkle cinnamon over that. Bake at 350 degrees until done and it is to die for; nice and bubbly, crunchy on top, and oh so pretty.

I also had to admire our ripening tomatoes in the greenhouse! I had raised two plants over winter, in the heated greenhouse/sun room. And late this winter, they started to bloom and now tomatoes are getting ripe. Wow, how fun! Just wait until next winter…

Readers’ Questions:

Pumping water without electricity

I have been reading a lot about EMP (electromagnetic pulse). If this were to happen and all motors were to stop (or anything mechanical), how would I be able to bring our water up from our well. We live in the county in a subdivision on approx 1 acre of land, and have well and septic. Is there a way of hand pumping the water up and out of our 200 foot well.

Meredith Wendt
Rockford, Illinois

Yes, you can install an auxiliary hand pump. There are several brands, from the older deep well pitcher pump, as sold by Lehman’s Hardware. You might also check out Bison Pumps, as they sell a “modern” version for that same application. Good thinking! — Jackie

Bulldozer parts

If you are having trouble with your “Old Yeller” Go to J.D. They have or can direct you to everything you wanted to know or need for older John Deere crawlers. Main man is Lavoy Wilcox. Good luck.

James Bruce
Petersburg, Michigan

Thanks Jim! We’ve already “met” Lavoy and he IS very helpful. Chances are we’ll be talking real soon as Will just blew the bearings in the left final drive and when he took it apart today, even the bull gear was shot. Who knows how long those bearings were partially gone…probably for years! — Jackie

Canning BBQ sauce

The following is our favorite BBQ sauce recipe, can I can this in boiling water bath or does it need to be pressure canned? If so, how long should it be processed?

28 oz ketchup
2 cups water
1 large onion
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar

Brown onion in butter, add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then simmer one hour. Brown meat, pour sauce over and bake at 350 for one hour. This sauce is so good we use it for gravy on mashed potatoes when we have ribs.

Maynard, Arkansas

Well, Debbie, I wouldn’t be afraid to water bath this recipe, as the catsup already has vinegar in it, as well as sugars. I would process it for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath canner (pints). — Jackie

Canning ham and using the right  grain mill

After baking a ham, we decided to try canning some instead of freezing it as usual. We used instructions in your canning book that said 75 min. for 1/2 pint and pint at 10 lbs. pressure. Should we not have baked the ham as long as we usually do for eating? The resulting meat looked more like beef after canning — very dark. It was very tender and tasted ok, but didn’t taste like ham.

Second, we purchased a little Back to Basics hand grain mill as you recommended. It works great for wheat, although a little slow. Can we use it for corn also or should we buy something specifically for dried corn? We’ve seen a Victoria mill advertised for grinding corn.

Gail Allen
Bessemer City, North Carolina

I often can up the leftover ham/turkey after a large family meal. And, yes, the ham does often darken, due to the seasonings and smoke of each different product. If you want it to taste more “like ham,” either simmer it to warm it thoroughly, cut up into convenient pieces, or bake the ham until only partly done, then quickly cut it up and pack, adding boiling broth to cover before sealing the jars and processing.

I have used my little grain mill to grind corn. Yes, it is a little slow, but then you don’t use much cornmeal at a crack and it’s best to use whole grain fresh cornmeal while it IS fresh, as it can get rancid fairly quickly, compared to processed “store” cornmeal. Like everything, in a grain mill you get what you pay for. I’d sure like one of those great $300 plus mills, but maybe some day. Meanwhile, I’ll keep using my little hand mill. — Jackie

Canning stew meat

I was pressure canning stew meat for the first time today and somehow got it into my fool head that I only needed a 1/2 inch of headspace instead of an inch of headspace for the pints. Needless to say, I knew I was in trouble when the whole kitchen started smelling like delicious roast about 45 minutes in!

I let the jars cool down to lukewarm on the counter and put them in the fridge. All of them pinged and appear to have sealed, but did they seal really? Did I just get lucky? Or should I just open these cans up and freeze what I have and call it a learning experience?

John (or Peggy?) Wilson
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Chances are that you lucked out. The reason for the full 1″ of headspace in the jars is to allow for any expansion of the food and to make sure the liquid boils around it during processing. As stew meat is cut up in relatively small pieces and there was liquid to start with, and your jars sealed, I’d feel comfortable in putting them in your pantry. As always, check your seals before each and every use — Jackie


  1. To Brad and Rhona:

    Hi there! Sorry for the slight off-topic here, but I’m curious about western Maine. I’m going to look at property there next week. Where do you live, and do you like it? Please feel free to email me at teapartyer (at) gmail (dot) com. Thank you, and thank you Jackie for hosting an informative and inspirational blog!

  2. Judy,

    She got them at Zups, our local grocery store. They are also called Cripps Pink. We DO have a young Pink Lady apple tree planted in our orchard, but probably won’t get apples. But that’s what makes homesteading so much fun. After all, who knows?????


  3. Okay Will, where did Jackie get the apples? Because I went searching for trees and what I read said that Pink Lady apples needed 200 days to make apples, Even Kansas doesn’t have 200 frost free days. Judy

  4. Pumping water
    In response to Meredith’s question, we installed a Bison pump 2 years ago in our drilled deep well and are very pleased with it. We live in Western Maine and the pump works in our cold winters. Although a little pricey we think it’s well worth the price. The people at Bison Pumps are all very helpful.

    Brad and Rhona Barrie

  5. Bull (you know what!) The secret of Jackie’s pie is the Pink Lady apples that are in it!


  6. What a beautiful pie! Thanks for sharing your secret. My mom just taught me a similar trick last week, she took the residual sugar, juice and spice mix from the sides of the bowl she mixed her apple pie filling in and brushed it all over the top of her pie. Like you said, crunchy, sweet, brown and beautiful. The butter would make it all the better.

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