On Sunday, we took a trip down to my son, Bill’s, place for grandson, Mason’s third birthday party. Luckily, it was a warm, gorgeous day, sandwiched in between two major snow storms. We had a great time helping Mason celebrate. It was such fun watching him playing with his friends and enjoying his new presents. Will got the job of fixing the “some assembly required” presents. Luckily, Mason was distracted by other things and wasn’t impatient with lack of progress.

We picked up our “new” old 1990 Ford Festiva that afternoon and my youngest son, David and his girlfriend, Hannah, drove it home while we followed. It drove like a champ and it only took 2 1/2 gallons of gas to come home (102 miles!). We already have Old Blue (my 1985 Chev pickup) and Old Yeller (the 1010 bulldozer), so now we have Old Red to go with them. I only hope it is as trusty as they are!

Monday, it started to snow. And it just stopped this morning. We really got clobbered…again. It’s totally gorgeous, but I wonder how much we’ll end up with, come spring? Here it doesn’t snow and melt all winter — it snows and snows and snows, until it melts in the spring.

This fall I told everyone I expected quite a winter as the beaver really built up a big house and stockpiled a ton of brush, anchored in the muck, for winter food. I think the beavers were right.

Readers’ Questions:

Canning cream cheese

Can you can cream cheese? And if so, can it be done in a water bath?

Donna G.
Albuquerque, New Mexico

I’ve tried it and have not liked the results; it doesn’t look pretty and smooth. I’d skip canning the cream cheese. — Jackie

Canning tomatoes

I’m looking at Yellow Stuffer tomatoes from Totally Tomatoes catalog page 27. It is possible to can this and later use as a stuffer? I’d bake them one or two at a time. I’m the only one here, so canning is a needed option to take care of over production. I’m becoming a self sustained man with his garden.

Philip McRae
Middleboro, Massachusetts

Good for you! I’m proud of you. No, I’m sorry, but if you can the Yellow Stuffers, which are good tomatoes for fresh use, they get too soft to stuff later. Peppers work for canning stuffed peppers, but they have a sort of tough skin and “stiffer” meat so the canning process doesn’t turn them to mush so easily. Enjoy the Stuffers fresh while they last and can up a bunch of other tomato products. — Jackie

Gas stoves and wringer washers

We are wanting to put gas appliances in an old house we are remodeling. After research we have found that effective 2011 gas stoves will no longer be available that allow the oven to be lit with a match. We have found one company here in Montana that, until the end of the year, is selling gas stoves with an electronic ignition that allows the oven to be lit with a match when there is no electricity – which can happen quite frequently here in North Central Montana.
Would you have any thoughts about gas stoves, as well as gas refrigerators, such as sources and desirable features?

Also, because we are on a cistern – no well – I have 2 old Maytag wringer washers set up in our shop. (Love my wringers, and such a blessing when compared to a laundromat!) Both washers are leaking oil down the back leg that is under the wringer control -my husband says they are leaking from a gear box possibly. I hate to lose my washers. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
One washer was bought from an elderly lady who said to take the agitator off occasionally and oil the spine collar that it fits on. Have yet to do that as it seems the oil would get on the clothes. What I need is a ‘Wringer Washer 101’ lesson.

Vala Johnson
Harlem, Montana

I would make sure that the stove that has electronic ignition, which lets you light the oven with a match if the power is off, will actually BAKE without power. Mom and Dad bought me a new, economy gas range when we moved to New Mexico, for a house warming gift. It was nice to have a new stove, but during power outages, it would not bake as the oven’s electric ignition cut the flame on and off to regulate the temperature of the oven. It would light with a match but it would not hold a baking temperature without power. I prefer a standing pilot in a gas range, which is harder to find now. Yes, the pilot does use a little more gas. But it is dependable, no matter what the power does…or if you are off grid, as we have been for years.

Those old Maytags often leak. Two of mine did…for years. I just used them outside in the summer and put an old cookie sheet under them in the house, in the winter. You can add more gear lube through the filler plug, if you need to. I’ve never oiled the spindle of the agitator, although I take the agitator off after every washing session and thoroughly clean under and around it. It’s amazing how much dirt and crud gets under there after only one washing! That’s why the little drain hole gets plugged up so easily, especially if your machine doesn’t have a pump, like mine. I recently finished an article on using wringer washers for Backwoods Home, so be watching for it. — Jackie

Boston baked beans

I have your Growing and Canning food book and love it. I have tried a few things and my family has liked them all so far. Thank you for your effort and time in making homesteading a little easier for the rest of us. My question is about the Boston Baked Beans recipe. I made and canned them. My husband said they are good but missing something (as he put it a kick). He mentioned maybe a bit of liquid smoke. Do you think this would work especially when canned and how much should I use to not overpower the beans? He couldn’t really put a finger on what he wanted in them so any other suggestions would be appreciated too.


Yes, you can add Liquid Smoke to your Boston Baked Beans. When you make up your beans, just add a little at a time, tasting as you go. Go just a little light, as the Liquid Smoke tends to get  stronger during storage in food. I use it in my barbecue sauce and also some of my own bean recipes for canning. — Jackie


  1. Pete,
    Thanks for the tips. We’ll look into the LED solar light. The ones I’ve seen don’t give enough light to read by, but I know they’re improving the solar lights every day.

    Sorry, I’d love to do a video for you, but the guy who used to do the videos for BHM blogs has moved and no one else can do the videos. I’m so computer dumb that I can do the video, but don’t know how to go from there. Maybe someone soon will figure out how to do it????

  2. I might have an idea for more light. I bought a patio solar light for about 5 to 10 dollars at home depot.
    Take a piece of 4×4 wood, and drill a hole for the pole of the lamp to go into. That will work as a stand. During the day take the light outside to charge. At night bring the light in, and place a penny over the sensor, then it will work around other lights. Put a shade on the lamp to help protect your eyes from the LED light.

    I also found that hand sanitizer helps clean up tree sap from hands.
    Thank you for your blog it is most enjoyable.
    It would be fun to see your homestead after a snow. Would you post a videio?
    Pete Triandos
    Santa clarita Ca

  3. That is such a serene snow picture…..How great for the weather to “behave” so you could visit the family, too….

    I’ve spent the last few years in the desert, I miss the snow and the water it brings; I grew up in the midwest and don’t miss the wind chill factor, LOL….

  4. Just wanted to say to Kristi in Iowa, that we tried the Boston Baked Beans also and thought something was missing. So while warming them up, I added a heaping Tblsp of dark brown sugar and that did the trick. Delicious :) Thanks Jackie for yummy recipes.

  5. I have a gas stove that will not bake without power. But we do have the camp oven, it does the job. There always a way to get things done. When Ike went through here (Indiana) and power was out, I was one of the few people that could make coffee. Can’t say how many pots of coffee I made. I love my gas stove. We also have several iron pots. They bake wonderfully. If you have two iron skillets and one is larger than the other, put the larger one on top and use coals, just like an iron lid. It will work. Jackie, I eagerly look forward to your post. Thank you for all the hard work you put forth and the knowledge you share.

  6. Agree with Nancy that the snow looks just gorgeous. (If it HAS to come, might as well enjoy its beauty.) Congrats to Mason on turning 3. They sure grow fast!

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