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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Can Because I Can

I saw an apron at Meijer's the other day with the title of this post on it, it got me thinking. There are many reasons to can: to enjoy garden fresh produce all winter long, to provide healthy nutritious food for your family, to stockpile for lean times, because you enjoy it, to be able to stand back and look at what you've accomplished, or because you can.

All of those reasons apply to me. It is very satisfying to look back and actually see what you've accomplished, to eat fresh peas in the dead of winter, and to know that you have some healthy food stored up when you need it. But part of the reason I can is because, I can. At this time in my life I am able to pick green beans, pull some weeds, stand over a hot stove while making jams or jellies, and keep an eye on a pressure canner while it does its thing. There may come a day when I can't do those things, but it isn't today. The good Lord has given me the opportunity, the ability, and the knowledge to can. So, to be a good steward of all that he has given me, including the produce, I can. My back may be hurting and me feet swollen at the end of the day, but I really believe when you quit doing what you can do, life just will not be as good.

There are many people out there who can can for various reasons. Some are not physically able. Some don't have the equipment, the knowledge, the space, etc.  Some just don't care enough to try they are like the Grasshopper in the old story "The Ant & The Grasshopper". But if you have what it takes to can, I encourage you to can. At the end of the day you will see your accomplishments!


Canning Cupboard

Some of this year's bounty

I Can Because I Can

Have a great day!
Mae

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Canning Peas

Since we are finally getting peas I am canning everyone of them I can get. My favorite are Zipper Cream and we aren't getting as many of them as we are the Purple Hull peas. I keep forgetting to take pictures of the Zipper Creams before I can them. But here is a picture of them and some Purple Hulls that I did can.

Zipper Creams & Purple Hulls


You can tell the difference because the Zipper Creams stay green. The Purple Hulls turn a brownish color.  They have the texture of a bean.

To can them you shell them, then wash them. They tend to have a lot of ugly black blossoms stuck to them and they need to be washed and picked through. Then you pack them into clean, hot jars. You don't need to tamp them down or pack them too tightly. Put a 1/2 teaspoon of canning salt in each pint or 1 teaspoon for quarts. Fill the jar With boiling water leaving 1 inch of head space. Wipe rims of jars and place lid and ring on jar. Place in your pressure canner and process for 30 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure for pints or 40 minutes for quarts. Allow the pressure to release then use a jar lifter to remove jars from canner. See complete instructions here

This is the first year that I have been brave enough to actually start using a pressure canner. I love being able to preserve our produce so that we will be able to enjoy our garden all year. It's a lot of work during the summer, but it's so worth it. Especially since you can't buy Zipper Cream peas in the grocery stores here.

If you would like to learn to can you might want to check with your local extension office. They may offer a class. Of course, there are all sorts of websites that are willing to teach you.

This post contains affiliate links.

Have a great day!
Mae

Linking with the Homestead Barn Hop

Monday, August 18, 2014

Peppers, Sunflowers & Elderberries

This week's post is all about plants. Peter Piper could have picked his peck of peppers this week in my garden. I planted 8 pepper plants, 4 Jalapeno and 4 mystery peppers (they were supposed to be bell peppers).  You can tell from the pictures these are not bell peppers. I think they are banana peppers. Whatever they are they are really productive.
I picked 34 off of one plant. I still have plenty of pickled Jalapeno's from last year so I researched how to dry them on strings and this is the result.

I thought they look really pretty. They should dry within just a few weeks and then can be ground into powder.

We had a 3 volunteer sunflowers come up in the garden this year from some we planted last year. They were all 3 different. One had a lot flowers on it, one is just 1 smaller flower, and the other one was huge.
That is my 6 foot 2 inch son holding it and as you can tell it covers quite a bit of him. It has to be at least 1 1/2 feet across. I haven't measured it yet but I am going to. I think it must weight a couple of pounds. I am drying it now so that we can toast the seeds. The seeds are really large.

We have also been picking elderberries. I am making a tincture from them for the cold & flu season. This is the first time I have done this so I am not comfortable telling anyone how to do it and how it works. If you Google Elderberry tincture there are a lot of people who are willing to tell you how and how it works. I will have to test it out to see, but for now mine is brewing and I am shaking it everyday. The basics are to soak some elderberries in Vodka. Some people say only use 100 proof some say 80 proof will do. I am trying 80 proof.


I have also used the juicer attachment on my Kitchen Aid to juice enough to make elderberry jelly. And still have a whole bag to do something else with. I am thinking about elderberry syrup. I just have to buy some ginger to get this done. It sounds like it may taste better than the tincture.

Have you ever made anything with elderberries? I would love to hear how you liked it and if it worked as well as you thought it would.

Have a great day!
Mae
Linking with the Homestead Barn Hop

 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Whew!

I have been away from the blog for a bit. We took our vacation to Georgia to spend time with the family. Then when we got home it was Fair week. That week is always busy for me at work! Now the garden is keeping me busy. And I am thankful for that. I work during the day then go home and can.  So far I have canned 8 quarts and 24 pints of green beans, 4 quarts of purple hull peas, 7 pints of tomatoes, 6 pints of peaches, 4 pints of peach jam, 7 pints of strawberry jam, 3 pints of cherry jelly. and frozen 1 pint of tomatoes. I made one jar of dill pickles and will be making another jar tonight. And I have dehydrated several large zucchini and a couple heads of cabbage. I picked purple hull peas last night and there wasn't enough to can so I will put those in the freezer tonight. I also picked Zipper Cream peas and since those are our favorite I will be cooking some of those for dinner tonight.

I love being able to use the produce from our garden throughout the year and am so thankful for anything the Lord blesses us with from the garden.

If you aren't familiar with Purple Hull peas, here is what they look like.

Fresh from the garden

In the process of shelling

The results of the labor


They are called Pink-eyed Purple Hulls. In the south we just call them Purple Hulls. They are related to a Black-eyed pea. We usually eat them green instead of drying them like most people are used to getting Black-eyed peas. They are so yummy! And they are easy to grow. The vines will get eaten by insects but they really don't seem to bother the peas. However, the deer love to eat them when they are young.

Have a great day!
Mae

Linking to Homestead Barn Hop
h

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Squash Casserole

I know you've been wanting to hear about something beside chickens so here you go. Our garden is starting to "come in" as we say in the south. And of course the first things that starts producing are the squash and zucchini. I am not a big squash fan myself, but Greg likes it and so does Daniel. Greg picked 6 squash the night before last so I went on a mission to find a new recipe for yellow squash. I found a squash casserole recipe that I didn't even mind eating. Hey, if you add enough cheese to something, anyone will eat it. Well most anyone. There were a couple of people in the house that still wouldn't try it.


Photo from: Food Network Paula Deen's Cheesy Squash Casserole

I found this recipe on Food Network for Paula Deen's Cheesy Squash Casserole:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced (I used just a regular yellow onion)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sleeve crackers, crushed medium to fine (recommended: Ritz)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the squash, onion, and butter (I didn't add the butter here) until soft. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan, Cheddar, and sour cream. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Place in the prepared casserole dish and sprinkle the cracker crumbs evenly over the top (this is where I put the butter, in pats on top of the crackers). Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.
This stuff was so good it'd make you want to slap your grandma. Of course, you know better, though.
Enjoy, and have a great day!
Mae

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