Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lots of Chili

So yesterday I cleaned out the freezer compartment of the refrigerator.  I did that mostly because in my typical unorganized fashion, stuff was just crammed in there willy nilly.  And when a rock solid package of food slid out when the door was opened, I was in danger of winding up with a busted toe.  I can't jump out of the way of falling objects quite as fast as I used to.  Anyway, in the process of cleaning and sorting, I found about 15 lbs. of hamburger.  Decided it was time to can some chili.  I had been out of my home canned chili for a while and I really like having it on hand for a quick meal.

This morning I browned the meat, drained it and tossed it into my big stock pot.  I added 9 pints of tomatoes with green peppers and onions that I had canned a couple of years ago.  That wasn't enough, so I added 5 quarts of diced tomatoes.  Threw in a big handful of dehydrated onions just because.  I had a couple of cases of kidney beans in the pantry, so I added 6 cans of them to the mix.  I seasoned the chili with salt and pepper and chili powder to taste.

When I can chili, I don't need to cook it first.  I just heat it up enough to warm it before filling the jars.  Because the chili contains meat, the quart jars are processed in the pressure canner for 90 minutes which is plenty of time to fully cook it.  I wound up with 14 quarts of chili.

When I was growing up, my Mom always served chili over rice.  I always thought she did that because she liked it that way.  It wasn't until I was grown and feeding my own family that I realized she used the rice to stretch the chili to feed our family.  By that time I liked the combination of chili and rice, so while the chili was in the canner I cooked up a big pot of rice, let it cool down and portioned it out into small freezer bags and froze it.  So now when I want chili for supper, I just need to microwave the rice enough to thaw it out and heat it up while the chili heats on the stove.  Add a pan of cornbread and I have a quick, easy supper.  And goodness knows, I am all about quick and easy meals.  :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Shakopee Wind Symphony Tour

My grandson, Zach, has spent the last year and maybe longer, raising money for his school Symphony Tour to Europe.  He sold cheese, summer sausage, fruit boxes, chocolates and I can't remember what all else.  I think the only thing I couldn't buy from him was the coupon for car washes, because I don't own a car.

Anyway, the group flew out of Chicago's O'Hare airport yesterday.  A 9 hour flight found them in Munich, Germany.  They traveled to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic where they stayed the night and today they go to Prague for some sightseeing and a performance.

My oldest daughter, Zach's Mom, went along as a chaperone.  Jill is posting pictures on Facebook.  There is also a blog set up by the teacher to keep a record of their trip.


Zach and Jill at the Chicago airport.

I'm pretty sure when Zach decided to learn to play the trombone, he didn't know it would lead to a trip like this.  I am so exited for both Zach and his Mom.  I know they will have a wonderful time making memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Roast Beast and Caramel Sauce

So Oldest Son wants to know if he can borrow my large roasting pan.  I say he sure can if he comes over and retrieves it from on top of my kitchen cupboard where it lives.  I don't do step stools any more.  When he gets here, he wants to know if I would like a plate of roast beast with potatoes and carrots for supper.  Of course I would.  And it was hand delivered right to my kitchen table.  And it was delicious.  And I didn't have to lift a finger.  And there is enough left over for my supper tomorrow.  Life is good.  :)

I imagine most have heard of making caramel sauce by boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk.  The other day I saw a video where the milk was poured into half-pint jars and water bath canned for three hours.  I decided to try it.  Son brought me some cans of the cheaper store brand sweetened condensed milk and some cans of the more expensive name brand.  He figured I could can both to see if there was any difference in the finished product.  So today I gave it a try.

After supper we did a taste test on the caramel sauce.  Turns out the cheap stuff from Walmart has a more creamy consistency and tastes better than the more expensive name brand.  I had some on ice cream for dessert and it is really good.  I think it might make a good caramel dipping sauce for apple slices, too.

I have to add a disclaimer here.  This is not an "approved" product to home can.  Which means that the government agency in charge of the home canning rules has not tested this and therefore has not given it's approval.  That being said, I am not telling you to can sweetened condensed milk as caramel sauce.  I am just reporting on what I did.

And that it is really, really good.  :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How did we survive!!!

I was doodling about the internet this morning while waiting for the coffee to perk and I stumbled upon this little article.  There is no author listed, but here is the link.  As I have no real post today, I offer this for your amusement.  Enjoy.

If you lived as a child in the 40's, 50's, 60's or 70's

Looking back, it's hard to believe that we have lived as long as we have...

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

Our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors, or cabinets.

When we rode our bikes, we had no helmets. (Not to mention hitchhiking to town as a young kid!)

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle. Horrors.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then rode down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned to solve the problem.

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. Our parents knew that all the neighbors would watch out for all the kids. No cell phones. Unthinkable.

We played dodge ball and sometimes the ball would really hurt.

We got cut and broke bones and broke teeth, and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. They were accidents. No one was to blame, but us. Remember accidents?

We had fights and punched each other and got black and blue and learned to get over it.

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank sugar soda, but we were never overweight... we were always outside playing. We shared one grape soda with four friends, from one bottle and no one died from this.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, video games at all, 99 channels on cable, video tape movies, surround sound, personal cell phones, Personal Computers, Internet chat rooms ... we had friends. We went outside and found them.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's home and knocked on the door, or rung the bell or just walked in and talked to them. Imagine such a thing. Without asking a parent! By ourselves! Out there in the cold cruel world! Without a guardian.

How did we do it?

We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live inside us forever.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't, had to learn to deal with disappointment.... The teams actually kept score and the winning team was allowed to be excited and the losing team learned to be good sports about it and learned that, in life - sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Some students weren't as smart as others so they failed a grade and were held back to repeat the same grade..... Horrors. Tests were not adjusted for any reason.

Almost no one went to "pre-school" and when we graduated high school we all knew how to read, use proper grammar and do basic math. We all learned how to count out change without a calculator to tell us the amount.

The worst problems in school were tardiness and chewing gum in class. Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. No one to hide behind. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law ... imagine that!

If you misbehaved - your parents spanked you and no one arrested them for doing that! We also learned that when a parent said "No" - they actually meant that and our lives would not be ruined forever by being denied every little thing we wanted at any given moment.

New toys were received on birthdays and holidays..... not on every trip to the store. Parents gave us gifts out of love.... not out of guilt.

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years has been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

And you're one of them.

Congratulations!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

More Canning and Dehydrating

Lately I have been concentrating on using my grocery delivery service to bring me items to add to my food storage.  This week, in addition to the normal groceries I use like fresh fruits and vegetables, I ordered 6 lbs. of butter.  Those, along with the 6 lbs. I had in my freezer, are waiting to be canned in half pint jars.  The half pints are just right for everyday use for one person or maybe two, but I need to can some more in pint jars for when I need butter for baking.  Thing is, I am low on pint jars.  I may have to buy a few more cases of jars or wait until I empty more from my shelves.  If you are a canner, you know that one can never have too many jars.  :)

I had 2 bags of hash browns in my freezer, so I ordered 4 more.  Those went on the dehydrator trays that were lined with the plastic mesh inserts to keep the little bits from falling through the trays.  I like having the dehydrated hash browns on hand.  They just need to be soaked in water for maybe 15 minutes, then drained and they are ready to fry or to use in casseroles.

Next were the frozen vegetables.  This time I got 6 bags of broccoli and 6 bags of whole kernel corn.  Dehydrating frozen vegetables is a snap.  Just spread them out on the mesh lined trays and set the dehydrator temperature at 135 degrees.  I did chop the broccoli into smaller pieces to use in soups or casseroles and so they would dry a little more quickly.

I ordered 10 lbs of russet potatoes.  These I will be slicing thin using a mandolin, blanching the slices for 3 minutes and spreading them in a single layer on the trays.  They are dried at the same temperature as the other vegetables.  I use these mostly for scalloped potatoes.  I find that cooking them in a crock pot works better for me than using the oven.  My instructions for crockpot scalloped potatoes using dehydrated potatoes are here.

Sometimes I will re-can food, when it is less expensive to do so than it is to make it from scratch.  This is true of sweet pickles.  Because I can not raise my own cucumbers and have to buy them at the Farmer's Market, canning sweet pickles become somewhat pricey to make.  I had 3 jars of sweet bread and butter pickles on the shelf from when I bought them on sale.  The jars each contain 24 ounces of pickles, which is way more than I consume within several months.  I ordered 3 more jars.  I will be dumping the pickles and juice into a stock pot and heating them to near boiling.  Then I will be packing the pickle slices and juice into half-pint jars and water bath canning them for 10 minutes.  If you have to have a really crisp pickle this probably won't work for you as they soften up just a little bit in the process.  I don't mind, so it works just fine for me and gives me jars of sweet pickles that get eaten soon after opening and don't live in my fridge for months on end.

We like the baby dill pickles too, and those cukes aren't so expensive, so we get them at the Farmer's Market.  I use Mrs. Wage's dill pickle mix when canning those and they turn out absolutely delicious.

I need to spread the work over several day's time.  If I don't, I am finding it takes this old body a couple of days to recover.  I am not happy about that turn of events at this stage of my life, but there it is.  So today I will deal with the butter and pickles and Monday will find me up to my elbows in potato slices.

Mama Pea over at " A Home Grown Journal" had a giveaway - and I was one of the winners!!  She gave away two sets of potholders she made.


I appropriated the photo from her blog.  I hope she doesn't mind.  My camera battery gave out and I really wanted to show how pretty these potholders are.  Mine are the top set.  I admire anyone who does handmade.  She makes some of the prettiest quilts and she knits socks and I don't know what all else.  And there are posts about her homesteading experiences.  I just love her blog.

And now I am off to work on the canning of butter and pickles.  Hope your weekend is snow free and shows signs of spring.  :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Busy

I'm really, really busy the next few days.  I'll be back Saturday.  Meanwhile, the folks in the sidebar have lots of good stuff to see and read.  Enjoy.  :)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

I have a new...

GRANDPUPPY!!

Youngest son called me today.  Told me to check my email because there was a surprise waiting for me.  I did.  There was.

Meet Oreo.







She is half Australian Shepherd and half Standard Poodle.  And she is just so stinkin' cute.  She is getting to know her surroundings and I have no doubt she will be a good dog for the kids.

I hope that sometime after she settles in, she can come for a visit.  Grandpuppies are almost as much fun to spoil as are grandkids.  :)