A Long winter and spring and a Rhubarb Pie

So it has been some time since I’ve posted. I apologize for not being around but we have a lot of changes over the winter and spring. Some great news, some ok news and of course some not so great news. So the great news is that my daughter is having twins in November. We prayed for a girl and a boy and that’s what we are getting. I am so excited and terrified at the same time since come January I will be watching them along with the other three little ones I watch.  My niece is recovered from Breast cancer treatments but will soon be starting the long journey of reconstruction surgery. Not an easy path for her. And last but not so nice, we found out last month that my mother, who lives in Florida, has colon cancer. She thought she had appendicitis but when they admitted her they said thats not the problem. So after lots of testing came back with a mass in her colon. She has had surgery to remove the mass but has just started taking Chemo pills. They had planned on their yearly trip north to Pennsylvania the end of July but that will all depend on how she does with the Chemo. She is two weeks on and one week off.  Goodness know I am not ready to live without my mother in my life. Next to my daughters, she is my best friend. We have always been close so it’s really hard with her living so far away from us. So we are praying that she will healthy enough to get up for a visit in July.

Everything else is pretty status quo here. The garden is in for what I normally plant, just for our use. Most things that I can I will purchase from the Amish farmer down the road because I don’t have room to plant that much. This year I did join a CSA for produced for our weekly use. So far I am extremely happy. They send you a list of what will be in your weekly box, which is how I ended up with Rhubarb. Now I pretty much eat all vegetables and fruit. I have even come to love Brussel sprouts as an adult. My mother tried to make us eat them when we were kids and I just couldn’t do it.  I mean we always had a garden with lots of vegetables to eat and can but I was never a fan of the Brussel sprouts.  One thing we never raised was Rhubarb. I have never eaten because my mother didn’t like it, so there for she did not make us eat it.

So here I am with a handful of beautiful looking Rhubarb and no idea what to do with it. So because my hubby is a huge desert fan. I thought I’d make a pie. I knew that it would be best mixed with some strawberries, so off I went to the store for some super fresh strawberries, some gluten-free flour and some sugar.  I looked up recipes for pie filling and I found one that sounded like the best option.  So I chopped the Rhubarb and strawberries, mixed in the sugar and cornstarch, but wasn’t sure if I had to cook it first or not. So I looked up some more recipes and they all said not to pre cook the Rhubarb, so here goes nothing.

Here is the recipe that I combined to make my pie:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
3 Cups Rhubarb, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
4 Cups Strawberries, sliced
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Corn Starch
1 Tablespoon Orange Juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Large egg, beaten
coarse sugar for garnish

 

Gluten Free Pie Crust makes 2 crusts
3 Cups All purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons of Butter chilled
3/4 Cup Shortening, I used Coconut oil, chilled
1/2 c Ice water
Mix together the Rhubarb, Strawberries, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch and orange juice. Set aside while you mix up your pie crust.
For the pie crust I cut up the butter into cubes and placed the butter and the coconut oil in freezer while I measured and mixed the flour and salt. You don’t want it hard just really cold. Then I used my pastry blender to cut in the butter and shortening into the flour. Since I used gluten-free flour it doesn’t get crumbly like regular flour. It actually starts to clump up. Just make sure you have no large pieces of shortening not mixed into the flour mixture. Then add in the ice water a Tablespoon at a time. I used less than 1/2 cup when I mixed it together. I also used a spatula to mixed it but you could use a wooden spoon if you’d like. You want it pulled together but not sticky. Then turn out onto waxed paper and fold it together and form two flat circle.  Place them in the refrigerator till you mix up the rest of the Rhubarb mixture.
Add the vanilla and the salt to the Rhubarb mixture. Beat your egg in a separate bowl. When your dough is chilled take it out and place one piece in between two pieces of wax paper. Roll out in a circle large enough for a 9″ pie pan. I like the Pyrex deep dish pans. Take one piece of the wax paper off and lay the crust inside your pie pan wax paper side up. Slowly peel the wax paper off the crust. Then push into place. Cut off the excess crust with a knife. I took small pieces of the cut off part and placed them around the upper edge of the crust, so that I had a good base to attach the top to. Then fill your pie with the filling. Now take your second piece of dough and roll out another circle. YOu could also cut out a lattice top if you like but its a little hard with the gluten-free crust because it tends to fall apart.  I rolled mine in a circle then ran the pizza cutter through it to make strips. Then place that as one piece on top of my filling. So it had the effect of lattice without the alternating layers. Then cut off excess and push the top and bottom together to seal the two.  Brush the top with your beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Place in a 350 degree oven for one hour. After the first half hour I put the pie crust edge shield on my pie to keep the edges from getting burnt. After an hour check your rhubarb with a toothpick to make sure its soft. If not put back in for 15 minute increments till it is.  Also I placed my pie on a baking sheet with a silicone mat on it in case it boiled over, and boy am I glad I did because it really boiled over.

So we haven’t cut it yet but we will be having it after dinner tonight. Hope it tastes as good as it looks.

So consensus is in, the pie is DIVINE. Don’t think the hubby even realized there was Rhubarb in it. LOL. So give it a try, if you have or haven’t tried it before. Let me know what you think. Heck, I enjoyed it and I was really not sure I was into it. But now I think I’ll try some Rhubarb and Strawberry jelly. Who know I might like that too.

 

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Happy Holidays and welcome the new year

Its been so crazy here that I never got a chance to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. So I pray that you all had a marvelous Christmas and that your New Years is even better. We got to see some of our kids and grandchildren over the holiday.  The youngest lives in California and the oldest lives in New York, so we did not get to see them. It was a rather quiet holiday for us. Our middle daughter, that lives closest was the only one we saw on Christmas day. Her and our grandson shared dinner with us. I was so used to cooking for a large gathering that it was so strange to only cook for four of us. But the day was very relaxing and I did talk to all the kids and grand kids on the phone.  In past years, we celebrate at my sister in laws house, where I do most of the cooking and their family all gets together with some of ours mixed in. However, my sister and brother in law moved to Arizona in October so there was no big celebration this year. I sure do miss those get togethers. Its nice to catch up with all the nieces, nephews and other family members. Well we all move on and our lives change all the time    Sometimes its nice to look back and realize how grateful you can be for the times you did get to share such occasions.   My parents live in Florida so I don’t see them over the holidays either. I remember back when we were kids and how neighbors, church friends, relatives, etc would come to our house over the holidays. There was always wonderful food and snacks. I grew up in the country and there was lots of farms and back country roads. We had a small country church that you knew everyone there or you were related to them. Those days seem so long ago. People don’t care so much about traditions as we did back then. I just wish we did and I sure wish we would keep those traditions going.

My wish for 2018 is to be a better mom, grandma, wife and friend.  Since I retired, it seems I have become pretty much a recluse. I am comfortable in my home and I rarely leave unless its to the store or out to dinner. Oh occasionally I go to my grandsons wrestling matches but I need to do more outside of my house. I think sometimes you get in a rut and then you get comfortable there so you just stay put. Well I need to get moving.  Next year I want to do more. I want to be outside, go more places and just become a better me.

So I wish for you all to reach outside your box and find what makes you uncomfortable and reach beyond that. I hope you all have a great new year and spend time with those you love.

 

 

Got to get the corn done day!

My favorite time of the year is canning season. I know, I’m crazy, spending endless hours in a hot kitchen, blanching, cutting and processing, what could be better. I love the whole process of canning. From harvesting to canning. Not so much the clean up process but I feel completely satisfied when I can look at my work at the end of the long day. I started canning when I was little. My mother and grandmother spent the entire summer putting food away for our large family to enjoy through the winter. But when corn time came around it was a community event. We would go from family to family in our little valley,  to pick, shuck, brushing, blanching, cutting and bagging corn. I remember sitting in the out-kitchen of our neighbors house sitting around shucking corn and talking with everyone about the local gossip, families and just having a fun day. Everybody pitched in and made the process go so much smoother. We would do 200 dozen corn in one day and not think twice about it. Those were some of the best days of growing up, friends, family and sharing great times.

So I got 11 dozen ears of corn and let my family know that Saturday was corn day. I get up and no one is there? Hmm, something is not the same. I think this job just went from a fun family event to a one man band event. Oh well, I got this. The messiest job to me, is that shucking and brushing process. So I set up my wheelbarrow load of corn, a trash can, my brush and a tub for my clean corn. I think I did pretty good, I was covered in corn hair most of the morning but I shucked that corn in record time. Now to get the corn into my kettles to blanch it. I set up my little assembly line between my sink and my dining room table. I filled my sink with cold cold water, set the corn on the table, had my kettles going, my knifes sharpened, I spread a table cloth on the floor under my chair to reduce clean up and I was ready to go.

Since those early days of doing corn there is a certain knife that we fought over using when cutting corn. It was just a simple wood handled knife that my mom used for everyday use. But when it came to cutting corn that knife was the bomb. Every year we tried to get our share of brushing done so we could get inside to get our hands on “The Knife”.  We got so fast at brushing that it was always a race to the knife.  Well as the years went on and my mom was moving away from our homestead and of course downsizing. We all were wondering who would get “The Knife”. Well guess what, I was the lucky winner of the best corn knife in the valley.

I put two kettles on for blanching and put my corn in. As soon as the time is up I put the corn in the first sink. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then move over to the second sink. By now the second kettle is ready so into the first sink that corn goes. I take the second sink of corn out and into my tray to start the cutting process. Now we all have our own cutting technique and mine may not work for you, but I like to pull that knife back towards me and let that corn slide right into my work bowl. So I get “The Knife” out and give it a little sharpening and start to cut. Well maybe it was the memory of that knife or I just don’t have my momma’s technique for sharpening a knife, but it is just not cutting like I remembered. So, for this round of corn, “The Knife” is not going to be used. I get my long Cutco knife out and it works like a charm.  Once the bowl is full I dump it into a large stock pot. I keep emptying one sink and refilling with fresh cold water after two batches and just keep a steady rotation of corn in to blanch, corn into sink one, then sink two and then onto a tray for cutting. Well I figured at this rate I would be here for awhile but I guess when you have done corn for 40 plus years this way, you just don’t lose that edge. Before I knew it the last of the corn was in the kettle for the last time.  Now, its just me and the hubby, so I put two coffee cups of corn into my Ziploc bags for our meal. It maybe a hair to much corn for us but there is nothing like fresh corn come winter so it won’t go to waste. Yea, I don’t use any of those fancy tools. A coffee cup is easy for me to dip into the stockpot of corn and it fits right in the Ziploc bag. Plus its just the right amount of corn per bag.

After all the corn is bag, I like to get as much air out of the bag as I can. I saw this process to make sure you get all the air out of a Ziploc bag on Facebook and I thought I would give it a try. You take a sink full of water, in my case I used a kettle for convenience. You take your bag and dunk it to the zipper part and it just sucks the air right out of it. Well I gave it a try and what better time than when you have 40 bags of corn to do. It takes a couple tries to get it to work or maybe it was just me, but once you have it down it goes quick. I like this process and will be using it on other things that I freeze without having to roll the bag, push the bag, etc to get the air out.

The corn is all bagged and ready for the freezer. Now the clean up process. I wash all my dishes, kettles and knives.  Time to clean up the outside mess. Corn hair and husks are spread out on my patio. I tried to make the trash can but somehow it flies everywhere.  Once the mess is cleaned up inside and out, I can finally relax. Of course, then my daughter calls and asks what I’m doing? and of course, the “I want some corn”, where were you when I needed the help? Oh well, all said I spent 4 hours putting up that corn and cleaning up. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning, if I do say so myself.

 

 

Deck the yard

When we first bought this place we had a 8 x 6 porch. Just enough room for our chairs but whenever anyone came to visit it was crowded. But we really didn’t have the money to build a new deck or add on to the existing deck. Thankfully a friend was redoing their deck and replacing the deck boards with lifetime decking. They asked me if I knew anyone that might want some deck boards, yep me. So we loaded our trailer with as many board that we could fit and have had them stored beside our shed for the last year. We have a lovely patio table that had no home and just sat beside our shed for the past two years. We love to eat outside but it wasn’t real convenient to haul all our food out to the shed every time we wanted to eat. So  I finally decided this would be the year we would redo our existing deck.  We figured out how big we wanted the new deck to be and then how many boards we would need to complete the framework, rails, posts, etc. I took the list to Lowe’s and started writing down all the prices so we could come up with how much it was going to cost us. With the cement, stain and lattice it would have ran us about $150, which isn’t bad but I just can’t come up with that much without cutting other things out. So I decided that I would save some of my babysitting money and use that to buy the boards.

So we picked a weekend and went to Lowe’s to get out boards. We started with just the frame work, cement and posts and that ran around $70. I always take a stroll through the paint department to see what mis-tints are on the shelf and as luck would have it, there was a gallon of Olympic deck stain, reduced to $4. I really don’t care what color it is at this point that is a deal. Now if it would have been some crazy color I would have left it sit but it was a redwood color and that works for me. So now we have the stain, the cement, the posts and all the framing boards and head to the register. My total bill was $81. The cashier handed me my receipt and another receipt. I asked what that was for and she said, “Your paint”. Yep Olympic gave me a $10 rebate on a gallon of stain I paid $4 for.

Now if you have ever done any home improvements with your spouse you will know from experience that it is not all sunshine and happiness. To even begin I had to move an entire flowerbed that I put in when we moved here. Yea now that is fun. Dug up all my beautiful flowers and put them in a tote till I can replant them. Not my favorite thing to do since they were all in bloom but it had to be done for the greater good. Most home improvements that get done at our house involve 10,000 trips to the shed for tools, 25,000 swear words and countless amounts of arguing over who is right and who is wrong.  Well thankfully when it comes to building, I have more experience the the hubby. So most of the laying out and measuring was my job and the drilling, nailing and sawing was his job.

So we set the posts and pour the concrete and then constructed the frame to hold the posts in place overnight. The next day we placed the hangers for the joists and then I thought I better stain them while I had the chance. We leveled the new deck so that it was even with the old deck, which sounds easier than it was. The one problem that we had was that I have a very old Wisteria that is attached to the lattice of the old deck and I did not want to risk losing it so we had to try to move the old lattice with the wisteria attached till we had the new deck finished.  We loosened the lattice and gently moved it to the side. This is the old type of wood lattice and has probably been there since the original deck was built. The lattice is very fragile and started to come apart, so we had to fasten it together till we could reattach it to the new deck posts. The next day we moved all the deck boards that we had stored out front to make it easier to get to. We had not touched the boards since we got them so we had a lot of screws to remove from them and most of them did not want to come out.  Hubby laid out all the boards and we fastened one end with nails. Then we made sure all our spacing was correct and then fastened the other side.  Once all were attached we sawed all the ends to make it even.  Now the deck boards were all nailed down and we quit for the day.

Because we have kiddos at our house all the time we could not leave it without some sort of railing or lattice. I really didn’t have the money for the lattice so I did some looking online to see who had lattice on sale. We have a Lowe’s and a Home Depot within a mile of our house. I prefer Lowe’s but I always check Home Depot for prices. Well I happened to check out Home Depots sale flyer and they had the lattice on sale for $18 a sheet. I needed to get more 2 x 4’s at Lowe’s so I just grabbed two sheets of lattice and had the cashier price match the lattice from Home Depot sale flyer.  Great deals are always fun to find. So I got the 2 x 4’s and the lattice for $40. I knew that before I could stain the deck I would have to power wash the entire deck. The old deck has never been power washed and because the deck boards that we used were used they needed to be power washed as well before I could stain. So I spent the entire next day power washing the deck and our trailer. Our neighbor has a great gas powered power washer and thankfully lets us borrow it. So in thanks for letting us use his power washer I washed the one side of his trailer as well. He had already done the front side I just did the back side for him.

Of course with every day a little rain must fall. It rained for the next couple of days so I could not stain the deck till the next weekend. I spent most of the afternoon staining the new deck and then the old deck while the hubby cut boards to enclose the bottom to keep out the critters from under the deck. My grandson had a wrestling match Saturday evening so as soon as we finished staining we went in to get showers to go to his match. We were no sooner out of the shower and I hear it, I can’t believe it but I hear it, RAIN!  I was pretty sure the deck was pretty much dry but never the less the can said it dries in 24 hrs. It wasn’t quite an hour and it rained. But the next day I looked and only a few tiny spots had lifted. I used every drop of stain from the gallon so I will have to buy a quart next time I get to Lowe’s just for touch ups. But the deck is done and we love it. My table now has a new home and we had our first meal on the new deck. We had a sail to cover the old deck and of course it doesn’t cover much of the new deck but we still had the umbrella for the table and we just gave it a good cleaning and put that up till I can afford a bigger sail.

So if you are looking to put up a new deck or just add to an existing deck, don’t be deterred to salvage some deck boards from your friends, Craigslist or wherever. We used the under side of the boards and power washed them and except for some screw holes it turned out beautiful. All said and done the deck cost us a total of $130 for lumber, lattice, stain, screws and nails. Not bad and a welcome addition to our home.

kids snack time

I have 13 grandchildren plus a few kids that I babysit during the week, so snacks go fast around this house.  The of snacks will rob you blind at the grocery store. I had to come up with some great alternatives that are both healthy and that the kids would love.  The one little guy that I watch is 10 months old and his mother brought him some name brand Yogurt drops. They are little drops of freeze dried yogurt that melt in their mouths. Well needless to say my 7 year old grandson decided to try them one day and he fell in love.  When I looked at them at the store they were almost $4 a bag.  One bag of those would not last at this house for one day. So I had to find a way to recreate them for cheaper than $4.  I searched Pinterest and what do you know I found a couple recipes. Most of them were basically the same recipe. A couple egg whites whipped to hard peak and fold in two individual size containers of any flavor yogurt.  Put the yogurt egg mixture in a piping bag or in my case a Ziploc bag, with the corner cut off and drop small dots on drying rack of the food dehydrator. Set dehydrator at 125 for 6 hours or till no longer sticky.  Well the first batch went flat because I didn’t whip my eggs long enough. So I decided to try it again. The second batch was better but still flat in the end. They still melt in your mouth but just to flat. So I went in search for more recipes to find one that actually turns out fluffy like the store bought ones.  I found the what I thought would work and went at it. Well they are perfect. I just needed to add a little corn starch and sugar to the recipe and use a higher heat in the dehydrator. You can also use the oven but my oven is hard to gauge the heat so I just used the dehydrator.  The recipe is as follows:

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

2 Tablespoons of sugar

2 Tablespoons of dry milk or formula if only babies are eating them

4 Tablespoons of yogurt

2 Egg whites

Mix together the dry ingredients, stir in the yogurt.  Beat the egg whites into a stiff peak. Take a small part of egg whites and fold them into the yogurt. Then slowly fold that into the rest of the egg whites. Don’t stir or that will flatten the egg whites. Then fill a pastry bag or Ziploc bag with the mixture and drop onto wax paper for oven use or parchment paper for dehydrator use.  To process in the oven set oven to 215 for 60 minutes. For dehydrator set to highest temp, mine is 155 for 2-3 hours. let cool on paper then remove and store in jars or ziploc bags.

They look just like the store bought ones and melt in your mouth. They are easy and cheap to make. Even the hubby likes them.

Tomorrow we are making granola come back for pictures of yogurt drops and granola tomorrow.

Busy weekend

So I have had a very busy week and weekend. Happy Fathers Day to all the dads, granddads and step dads. My hubby is a step dad to my kids and he is a great dad. We have a great blended family and lots of grandchildren to love.

If you read my other stories you know I have been helping my son get his store remodeled so we can get it opened, hopefully, by fall. Yesterday was the Appalachian Trail Festival in the town where his store is, Duncannon Pa. We decided we would put up a stand to sell some of the things we will be carrying in the store. My son went out and bought all the stuff to screen print our own shirts. He spent all last week making shirts for us to sell as well. They were a great seller yesterday and a good way to get the stores name out there. It was hot but well worth our efforts. I met so many nice people from the trail and also from different trail associations and just people from the community.

Today, hubby and I went to the flea market but I guess because it is so hot most of the stands were closing  up for the day. I am trying to find old camping and hiking gear to use for decorations for the store. We are putting in a hikers lounge for the hikers to relax, have a cup of coffee, use the wifi and just relax for awhile. The thrift store next door gave us a large wooden coffee table to us. Well we couldn’t just use it as is so we are painting a chess/checker board on the top for everyone to us. It will be a great addition to the lounge.

I am drying some cinnamon apple chips in the dehydrator for snacks for the kids that I watch. This is the first time I have tried apples so I hope they turn out as good as they look in the book.

Just finished another round of breakfast burritos that hopefully will last 2 weeks. They are so easy in the morning to just pop in the microwave and they are ready to go. The hubby likes to put salsa on them but the kids just eat them plain.  Thought since it is fathers day I would make a hubby all his favorites. Needless to say the kitchen is hot today.  Strawberry shortcake is done and the biscuits are cooling. Salisbury steak and roasted potatoes are in the oven and cucumbers and onions are in the fridge. Hopefully I can turn the oven off soon or I may melt away. Just can’t keep the house cool with the oven on.

The garden is growing and I noticed that I have a potato plant coming up. Only thing is we didn’t plant potatoes this year? I’m sure it is one we somehow missed from last year but I still can’t believe it lasted all winter and regrew. Well we will enjoy them no matter how it got there. I’ll have to water tonight because we didn’t get the rain they promised us this week.

Have a great week and I hope you have a wonderful day.

Don’t be chicken about broth

I have canned for more years than I can remember. No matter where I have lived I have always canned vegetables to use throughout the winter. My mother and grandmother taught me how to can but we only did water bath canning. So we did pickles, tomatoes, green beans and peaches. Now that I am older I have learned that I can can so much more if I use a pressure canner. But when I looked into  pressure canner I realized how expensive they are new. So I went on a hunt for a good pressure canner at a reasonable price. I asked everyone I know and no one had one.  Then we went to our local flea market and went on a search. We looked and looked and didn’t find any. As we were walking back to our car we stopped at a few more stands and wouldn’t you know that we found one at the last stand. The guy was packing up for the day so he made me a wonderful deal. It was a Presco 16 quart pressure canner with all the weights, tray and gauge but needed a new gasket. Well for $20 I knew I couldn’t go wrong. I knew that the local extension office will test pressure canners for free or a small donation. So I bought a new gasket on Amazon for $6 and took it to the extension office. It came back perfect so I was all set.

Now what to can for the maiden voyage. I belong to a Facebook group for canning, Safe Canning by the book on Debbies back porch. A wonderful group to join if you want to learn canning or just want to get some great ideas and methods. Debbie the admin of the group does some wonderful videos on YouTube that give you step by step directions. I for one want someone to show me the first time so i know exactly what I need to do and how things should turn out. I decided I would go through her videos and pick one that I had all the supplies for. Well I decided I would make a go at Chicken Stock. I always save all my drumsticks, back bones, etc from any chicken I get and I had a couple gallon bags of pieces. So I followed her instructions and put them all in my large roaster oven and let them cook for like 10 hours. I then picked out all the chicken and strained the broth that was left. You have to then put the broth in containers and put in the fridge to cool so that you can get all the fat to separate. Once it is cool, you take it back out of fridge and remove all the fat that has settled on the top. Then reheat the broth and prepare your jars.  I got really lucky and a friend of mine had a neighbor who no longer wanted to can because it was just her and her husband and it was just to much work for just the two of them. She gifted me with 12-14 dozen canning jars with rings, all wide mouth and a mixture of pints and quarts. What a great gift! So you need to wash all the jars and rings and then I put them in the cleaned out roaster with some water to keep them warm. Now your broth needs to stay warm as you fill the warm jars. At this time I also put 2-3 quarts of water into my pressure canner and turned that on as well. You fill each jar, put the lid on and then hand tighten the ring and load them into the canner one at a time. My canner holds 8 pints at one shot and I only use pint wide mouth jars for stock because you normally only need 1-2 cups for most recipes. Once you have filled the canner with your stock in the jars. You can place the lid on the pressure canner and lock it into place.  Let the weight off till it steam out for at least 10 minutes. This allows the canner to build up the pressure that you need to complete the canning process. Once you have reached that step then you place the weight back on and bring the canner up to 11 lb pressure. When it reaches that pressure then set your timer for 20 minutes at 11lb.  Once your timer goes off, turn off the heat and let the gauge go to zero to depressurize your canner. When it get to zero, carefully, push on the weight to get the last little steam out, but do that slowly. Remove the lid and take your stock out with the jar lifter. Stock will continue to boil for quite sometime and the lids will pop a couple times. Let the stock sit 12 to 24 hours to set the seal and remove the rings. Wash off the jars in cold water and then I mark the lids.

It does take some time but it can be done over a couple days. It is the best stock I have ever used and super cheap to make.

Dehydrated

Lately I have been adding to my stored food supply with my dehydrator. I was fortunate to find a great dehydrator on my Amazon Review trader site. The cost was 1/2 the cost of the original price and I couldn’t pass it up.  I did the normal fruit to start but now I am getting brave to try all kinds of things.  I did some reading on all things dehydrated and so I took the plunge and started. The first thing I tried was pineapple and wow it was awesome. The local Aldi’s had pineapples for $1 so I bought two and cut them up and put in the dehydrator. It took a lot longer than I thought but it did turn out wonderful and tasted great. Trying to judge how long to dehydrate is not always easy and you will learn how long certain things take to fully dehydrate. Use the recommended time and then check to see how they are coming along. If not done you will need to add time.  So I started by adding 2 hours at a time till I got it to the stage it should be. Then I found out that it has a lot to do with humidity in the air and we have had a lot of rain over the past two months. That will add time to your dehydrating time as well.

My dehydrator has 8 trays, a timer and a temperature setting knob. It is easy to use and a great dehydrator for any food.  I have found that the trays, though large, have a lot of holes in them so dehydrating small items requires you to use tray liners.  I did not buy the tray liners when I purchased it and of course I needed one for some cherries that I tried. What to use? I looked online to see what other people used and they recommended parchment paper, well don’t have any of that right now. Now what am I going to do? I do have a large amount of Teflon baking liners that I bought years ago. Wasn’t sure if they would work but I thought I would give them a try. To my surprise they worked great. The sheets are made for cookie sheets so they are just perfect for the dehydrator trays. I have a few large sheets and I had to trim a couple of them so I had enough for my trays and I can still use them on my cookie sheets. I wish they still made them but for whatever reason they just never went over and they quit making them.

So today I feel the need to get the dehydrator out and get busy. I need to make some things for my son to use for his store he is starting. I thought I would make some things that can be added together to make meals. Today I will be doing carrots and celery because they are staples for most dehydrated soups etc. The nice things about my dehydrator is that I can do two like products at the same time. So I will get these two done today and then move on to the chicken and beef tomorrow.

For the carrots you really need to wash them first, before you do anything else because you don’t want to contaminate your produce with dirt or anything before we even get started. Then you can peel them if you like, its not necessary but I like the look of them without the peel.  I am going to grate my carrots because they are just for taste in my meals but you can also slice them if you wish as well. Remember that anything you put in the dehydrator needs to be sliced less than 1/4″ pieces or it will take longer to dry. But for today we are going to grate our carrots. It is recommend that you blanch them for 2-3 minutes before placing in the dehydrator, to remain the bright color of the carrots. It also eliminates any bacteria or enzymes that may have been left behind after washing. After blanching immediately put in ice water or rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Then I grate them and place them on a tea towel or paper towels to dry them for a little while before putting them in the dehydrator. After 1/2 hour you can start placing them on the lined trays. With most things you need to leave a space between your pieces but with grated carrots because they are so thin you can just spread them out in a single layer per tray.  Start your dehydrator at this point because it will work so much faster if it is preheated.  Set the dehydrator at 125 and dehydrate for 6 to 10 hours or until crisp. To check if they are done, take one out let it cool and try to snap in half. If they bend they are not done and put back in for an hour at a time. Let the carrots cool in the dehydrator before bagging. Once they are cool, remove from trays and put in bags. At this time put the bags in the freezer for 2 weeks to complete the process. This will help them stay fresher longer. I mark my bags of the day I processed because I constantly have a rotation of bags in my freezer and can not always remember when I processed them. After two weeks you can place in mason jars to store or you can vacuum seal them. Depending on how many I make I do both so that I have for future use and for daily use.

Also going in the dehydrator is our celery. You will need to wash it very good or use produce spray to clean it. Then you can slice it or chop it, however you prefer to use it. If you are making celery powder or celery salt just go ahead and chop it up. No need to cut off the bottom end it will grind up and process just like the rest and then nothing goes to waste.  Spread out the celery on your trays and process at the same temperature as the carrots 125 to 135 for 10-12 hours. Again the pieces should snap when they are completely dried. Allow to cool in the dehydrator and then place in jars or bags. If you are making the salt or powder place in a coffee grinder or blender and pulse till completely powder form. Then place in mason jars for storage. If you are making celery salt place 1/2 cup dried celery powder and 1/2- 1 teaspoon of salt, depending on your taste and pulse in your grinder. I save old spice jar and remove the labels so I can put my homemade spice blend in them. You can also use mason jars or baby food jars work great also.

So take some time and have fun. Most of the work is in prepping and you can prep it ahead of time and throw in the dehydrator overnight whenever you have a chance. It is easy and fun and above all else it is a great way to use up produce that might otherwise get thrown out.

Thanks for your time and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Here Kitty Kitty

This has nothing to do with living on less. I guess you could say it is a tale of being helpful, rescuer and just plain crazy. A week or so ago I noticed an adult cat lurking around my next door neighbors central air unit. We have quite a few feral cats in our development so stray cats running around is nothing new. A few days later as we were mowing the yard, I noticed the same cat at the same spot and then I saw two little kittens. Well it turns out there are 5 kitties and the mother living in the air duct.  I went and got my neighbor to show him and then we saw what those little devils had done to his unit.  Somehow the mother scratched a hole into the cold air tube that takes the cold air from the unit and sends it into his house. When I say a hole I should say you could drive a truck through it, well a Tonka truck. So now my neighbor knew there was no way he could turn on his air. But how are we going to get these kitties out of the hose. So hubby thinks we can catch them with the help of a live trap, however we don’t have one.  Who can we call for a live trap? Someone hubby works with had a problem with raccoons and thankfully he had a trap. So now we had to bait the trap and then what? My daughter brought a huge box home from work and we can put the caught kittens in the trap, ok we are set.

 

First day with live trap, my daughter caught one and we put the first kitten in the box with a blanket, some food and water. Now everyone has gone to work so its up to me to catch the rest. Mid morning I look out my kitchen window and see I have caught mamma cat in the trap. Oh darn it, Now what? Well wouldn’t you know the little ones are all out and trying to get to mamma. What can I do now? I remember we had a fishing net on a pole, maybe I can catch them in that while they are outside checking out mamma? So I get the net and sneak out to the air conditioner. The kittens are all around eating and trying to get mamma. I snuck up, see three little kitties and I swiped down over one. Alright, I caught one. Put him in with his brother. Now I need three more. Well throughout the day I caught the last three in the same manner. Now I have 5 little kitties in a box in my shed, Uh I don’t even really like kitties but these are adorable.

My daughter comes home from work and we check them all out. We have 4 males and only one female and mamma cat still in the live trap. What are we going to do with them? We called the vet and she gave us some suggestions but also informed us that the rescues and the humane society is overrun with kittens right now. Best bet is to find homes for them.  So my daughter posted them on the local yard sale page on Facebook with a picture of their cute faces. Within an hour we had homes for two of the kittens. But we still had three to go. We fixed up a large tote with a litter box, blanket and food and water and covered the top so they wouldn’t escape till we found homes. I checked on them constantly with the help of my grandson, who thinks we should keep them all, of course. I check on them before I go to bed and make sure they have plenty of water and food for the night and no kitties? My daughter comes over and we search. Well there is no way they can get out of the shed but where did they go? The shed is new and is 10 x 12 but there is shelves, a tool chest and a very large heavy work bench. But no kittens? My poor daughter had to stand on the work bench and search behind it. There they are hiding. Well needless to say it was a circus. They would run one way we’d go the other. Oh brother, all the while my grandson, who is no help mind you, the hubby decides he’s going to help. Yeah  he’s about as much help as my grandson. These little guys are hissing at us and scratch at us, you would think they are mountain lions or something the way we jump.lol.  Finally after much searching we get them all rounded up and back in the tote.

We have now found homes for all but one of the little guys but pretty sure he will go soon. The mamma we tried to put her in tote but she just jumped right out. So we still need to try and catch her again and get her fixed so we have no more surprises.

Needless to say it was quite the experience. I don’t think anyone will hire us to catch their wild animals or even kittens.

 

 

 

Left me in stitches

I was over helping my son at his new store and thought I’d pick up some wood that was laying on the floor. Didn’t know that there was metal attached to the back of it and cut my finger. Well it bled so I just wrapped it in a paper towel and some electric tape and kept working. I knew I didn’t have any peroxide or band aids at home so I stopped at the Dollar General on my way home to pick some up. I think the cashier was wondering about the electric tape. Well when I got home I thought I better clean it out and I realized it was way worse then I realized.  So when hubby got home from work I said we better go to Urgent Care. Needless to say it was way worse than I thought. I needed stitches. I have lived 53 years and have never needed stitches so I was not prepared for this. The Dr was nice enough to tell me that the numbing shots would hurt worse than the cut. Well lets just say she was not exaggerating. She started with 3 shots and it felt pretty numb. Then she got to the 3rd stitch and I about jumped off the table. So she had to give me 2 more lovely shots. She put in the last two stitches and I was patched up. Now how do you take care of a 9 month old and can with your finger banged up? Well it’s not easy but I got it all. So needless to say, next time I help my son, this chick will be wearing gloves. IMG_1016[1]