Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Do you know what day it is? Do ya? No it isn't Hump day, it is canning day!! Today I was trying out my new steam canner. I really didn't know alot about steam canners but was intrigued when it touted that you could cut your water bath canning almost in half. Since i do alot of water bath canning with all kinds of pickles, this sounded like something that i needed to try. 

The Large pot in the front is my new steam canner. In this picture you can see the yellow sticker, below that sticker is a steam vent hole. When the steam is steady out of the holes it is ready to start timing.

This is my bread and butter pickle brine that will be going on jalapenos!
 20 pints of jalapenos sliced, packed and topped with pickle crisp.
I know this isn't the best picture but i wanted to try to get one showing the steam coming out the vent hole.

Here is my opinion on the steam canner. It holds 6-8 cups of water and doesn't take long to heat up to ready to use. After i got it ready to use i took the top off and put in my 9 pints. When i put the lid on I started timing to see how long it took to start venting steam. I was surprised at the time of 3 minutes!

 A standard water bath canner can hold upwards of 4 gallons of water and take 30 minutes to come back up to a boil after putting in your jars. The time savings is unbelievable! I am thinking i will invest in another one so I can do 18 pints at a time! Total time process for 9 pints of candied jalapenos was 13 minutes! 

This steam canner was very light even when filled with water and very easy to use!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Seed Giveaway!

This Texas weather has been so crazy! We went from 30 inches of rain in a month to dry, hot, humid and watering the garden! Speaking of garden, how is everyones garden growing? This year the garden has less growing in it than it ever has. I have harvested alot of okra and jalapenos, but very few cucumbers. Between the hail, powdery mildew and our dog that likes to self serve himself cucumbers we have not gotten many. I think that I need to pull up all the cucumbers and replant. Since I pulled out my stash of seeds I figured no time like the present to offer a seed giveaway! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Is it seriously June already? Usually by this time I am up to my elbows in veggies from the garden, but this year Texas was off her medication and sent us tons of rain along with hail. It has been great for catching up from previous years of drought but it hasn't been so great on the garden. The hail of course played havoc on the plants, I lost alot of cucumber plants, swiss chard from last year didnt make it thru the hail either. In 2 weeks we had close to 20 inches of rain, with all that water it rotted the onions and brought the gophers to the garden and they loved all the potatoes! But now that the rain has stopped I am starting to spy cucumbers, baby okra and jalapenos! It wont be long now before i will be elbow deep in veggies!

This month is chicken pick up! If you have never heard of Zaycon foods now is a great a time as any to check them out! I purchased the boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.69 a pound. Now you do have to purchase in 40 pound boxes and I know that isnt for everyone. But with the bird flu in the U.S and the very large amount of birds that have been killed, now is the time to stock up! 

Next Week Vet girl and Master chef are going to College Station, Tx for state 4-H competition. Three days of competitions and other fun 4-H stuff to do. Both kids will be competing in the food challenge, this is actually the first food challenge team that our county has had! They even made the front page of the Local paper! 
Here is the article if you want to check it out! Food Challenge!

Yesterday was rabbit processing day. I had 4 that needed to go to freezer camp. Since my hands do not work like they used to is takes me longer to process out and I cant do as many per day. It is always worth it though as I know what my family is eating and I also know how it was raised. 

I was at Freds store and noticed some expired items. I decided to ask if they would mark them down for purchase and they gladly did it! I use alot of pickle crisp when I can and that stuff is $5 a jar! Well after purchasing the mark down pickle crisp for .25¢ a jar I wont be needing any for awhile. It never hurts to ask if they would mark something down, you never know what they will say!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I wanted to post some updates on a few things that I have tried and blogged about. 

First the master tonic!

I let it set way longer than the 14 days and I hate to admit that i forgot to shake it a few times. I started the tonic Feb 20th. It has been setting and brewing for 3 months now. The kids and I attended a 4-H work shop and I think that everyone besides us that showed up was sick. We came right home and took our tablespoon and since we really were not showing any signs of being sick I really cant say one way or the other that it kept us from getting sick but it was worth taking it in my opinion! The longer it has set the hotter it has gotten and I really thought it might have been to hot to tolerate but really the heat feel in the mouth goes away pretty quickly.

Pickled hot dogs!

Wow! I made 3 quarts of these and the family loved them! Now I think that i will add more red pepper flakes my next go around but over all I think the recipe was great and is a keeper! The family has asked for them again! I take that as a good sign.

Cutting your own meat!

I posted about cutting my own pork chops from a large pork tenderloin. It went well and really did not take that long and I cut them to the way we like them. Since posting about my adventure into cutting my own I have purchased 7 more pork tenderloins and cut them also. Now I see no reason to spend $4-$5 a pound on pork chops when i can spend less and cut my own. Not sure why I had not really done this before.

Tomato less tomato sauce!

This was a big hit for me and the rest of the family. We used it for pizza sauce and it really tasted like pizza! Even Mr. Fix-it liked it! If he liked it I would say it was good! I also tried it in spaghetti and it still plays tricks on my brain seeing a red sauce and knowing that I cant eat it, but it tasted so good and everyone else thought so too. I will be making this sauce alot more often!

Strawberry garden!

I planted 108 strawberry plants earlier this spring and man they have taken off. I have been picking just a few berries here and there but i think next year we will have a bumper crop! The new wire tunnels also work great to keep the birds, squirrels and dogs out. I think that is something that I should have done several years ago.


Garden has been planted but this crazy weather that we are having here in Texas has taken a toll on some of the plants. With all the rain and hail almost every night I lost about 1/2 of my cucumber plants. What I have left has started to really grow and I have baby cucumbers setting on. The okra is growing like a weed and it wont be long and I will be harvesting that. The jalapenos are also setting on peppers. The dogs dug up most of my radishes, carrots and beets but i did get a handful of radishes and man where they good. The potatoes did not do so well this year. I usually plant in a raised potato bed but it needed some work this year so decided to plant in the ground, well i wont be making that mistake again for sure. The gophers came in and ate 99% of the potatoes! Onions did ok, but with all of this rain they were starting to rot so I pulled all of them and have them drying now.

All in all everything is going well here on the homestead. Vet girl and Master chef are going to state 4-H competition next month. I am proud of the work that they did that got them to state!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cutting your own meat.

When you are at the warehouse type places, do you ever look at the cut your own meats? I have purchased the whole hams to slice for lunch meat, but never really looked at much else. I guess I really never thought about slicing my own.

On a recent trip to Sams we found pork tenderloin for $1.78 per pound. Of course when you buy at a warehouse style club you have to buy it in a larger chunk than you would maybe at your local grocery store.

I figured at that price I could cut my own boneless pork chops, i mean really what did I have to lose??

After purchasing one pork tenderloin and seeing how easy and how much cheaper it was we went back for more. This time we purchased 2!

Here is my finding on buying in a large chunk and cutting my own.

Out of the 2 tenderloins I cut 64 pork chops, they average around 4.5 ounces each. My total cost on both was $32.68. With that I got 13 meals, total cost per meal for the meat is $2.51, price per ounce is .12¢ and the cost per pork chop figures out .50¢. 

When i looked around at the boneless pork chops they were $4.99 per pound if you had the meat market slice and package them for you. That figures out to .31¢ per ounce or $1.24 per pork chop if they were approx 4 ounces each. I fix 5 pork chops per meal so that would have cost $6.20 per meal for the meat. Total savings per meal is $3.69 with a total 13 meal savings of $47.97!! At that savings I can take the time to slice my own! If you have ever thought about it but wasn't sure if it was worth it or you didn't think you can do it, well now is the time to save and learn!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Food Allergies.

Do you have a food allergy? If you do, do you try to find things that taste or look like that food? Or do you just settle that you are allergic to that food and move on? 

Well I am allergic to tomato. Anything with tomato in it is off limits. The allergy as gotten worse that i cannot even come in contact with a tomato plant. 

For many years I just made do without using any tomato products for my food, but I do cook with it for the family.

I have dry pizza, ranch spaghetti, ranch on french fries, ranch hot dogs, ranch burgers.....you get the picture, ranch replaced my tomato stuff.

While on the Internet I came across a recipe for a tomato less tomato sauce. I thought to myself, how good could this possibly taste. I finally decided that it was time to give that sauce a whirl. 

Here is what you will need.

About 3 tablespoons of ghee, coconut oil, or butter
3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
8 smallish garlic cloves
1 large or two small butternut squash
1 medium zucchini, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 cups of beet stock*
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons of dried oregano
3 teaspoons of dried basil
unrefined salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a heavy large knife, slice the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a large pan and cook for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, or until soft when pierced with a fork. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Scoop out the soft squash. You should have about 4 cups worth.
2. In a large saucepan, or pot, sauteed the onions and zucchini in the fat over medium high heat until soft. Add the garlic in the last few minutes of cooking time. Add the beet broth, butternut squash puree, and the apple cider vinegar and herbs. Bring to a simmer and simmer for several minutes. Using a blender or a hand blender, puree all of the mixture and then salt to taste.
It’s ready to serve! To thicken sauce, simmer to desired thickness while stirring. To thin, add water or broth.
*To make the beet stock, scrub one red beet well. Thinly slice and put into a small pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Take beet slices out.

I used pickled beet juice and also added some pickled beets to it.

The above picture is of my cooked butternut squash and i have everything else in the pot ready to go.

This picture is in the process of blending it all together.

Here is the finished product!!

Now if someone brought this to me and told me it had no tomato in it and that i should try it. I would spare my life and politely decline. 

After simmering to mingle the flavors, I have to say this tastes alot like a good spaghetti sauce! I see less ranch spaghetti in my future. I may also be able to have a non dry pizza! 

It will take awhile to make this so plan ahead! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring is here! Oh the work that I have ahead of me because spring is here, UGH! My seedlings are waiting impatiently in the green house, I think I picked more ripe strawberries from the plants in the green house than I have gotten from my other plants!

So I knew it was time to start working on my strawberry beds! I know what you are thinking, they weren't that bad where they? Well to prove how much work they needed i documented my transformation of the area!

This is what i started with. We had garden fence around the whole thing, with sides that we could take down to access the plants and to weed. The 2x4 was to put a cover on it to keep birds and squirrels out! The garden wire was to keep the chickens and the dogs out.

After getting it all weeded and leaves cleaned out it looked like this!
This year we decided that we wanted to do something different and really keep critters out so we can actually get some berries.  We decided to try chicken wire hoops! 
I will have a watering system on this just like the rest of my garden. I had a sprinkler system set up on this but it didn't give the coverage that I needed. 

Here it is will all the hoops,mulch and 108 new plants! I sure hope I can get a good crop from them this year!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Feeding animals, hauling hay, processing our own meat, I can do all of these things. Tell me why i cannot read an easy pattern?? I can tell you i can laugh at myself about it now, but a few days ago i felt like i was just stupid. I have come to the conclusion that just because I am a farm girl does not mean that I know or can do everything. Guess what, I am totally OK with not knowing everything too! 

I am sticking with this learning as Master chef is interested in sewing and wants to enter clothing construction for the local 4-H fashion show.

So I am going to do the only thing i know to do, reach out to my mom and have her try to teach this hard headed farm girl. :) 

I know for myself, I usually don't post failures or things that don't turn out the way i think it should. 

Not all of us farm girls can do everything even though we want everyone to think we can.

I just want everyone to know that it is fine to not know how to do everything!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pickled sausage, oh how I love thee. I seek it out when I go to the store, I have to have it if I find it. Now I can truly say not all pickled sausages are created equal! I have had the MMM this one tastes great to the yuck where is the trash can! I have always wondered how they were made and if they were really just a pickled hot dog. After looking for some recipes I found one that I wanted to try. 

Here is what you need:

This recipe can of course be cut down to a half batch or increased to a double/triple etcetera
-3 cups white vinegar
-3 cups water
-3 Tbs Kosher salt 
-1 Tsp garlic powder(I didn't have any powder so used freeze dried garlic)
-1.5 Tsp Red pepper flakes (or less if you don't like it to be too spicy)

1 Tsp. Paprika for color(not necessary if you don't want it)
-Jars for storage

 1) Put the water, vinegar, and salt in a pot and bring it to a boil

2) Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients
3) Allow the brine to cool 
4) Cut hot dogs in half and place them in clean jars

5) Pour brine into jars and refrigerate for several days, the longer the better!
I used quart jars and each jar held 12 hot dogs cut in half. I started with 2 jars but as i was pouring brine into the jars I had enough to make another jar.These have been in the fridge for 24 hours and I tried one this morning and i think this is a keeper recipe for sure!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Master tonic? I keep hearing talk of this all over facebook and other places . All I can picture in my mind when I hear about this is Gypsy's parked in their wagons trying to sell people elixirs and tonics with claims that it will cure EVERYTHING. Well after reading more about it, I decided I needed to try this cure everything elixir. 

Here is what you will need:

Master Tonic Recipe

2 bunches of garlic, chopped
A decently sized ginger root, grated
A decently sized horseradish root, grated
1 huge organic red onions, chopped
24 or so small habanero peppers 
64 oz raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar (Bragg)
4 quart size glass jars with plastic lids

After assembling everything into one location i proceeded to chop, chop and chop some more! Next time(of course if there is a next time) I will purchase all ready peeled garlic! After chopping everything I grated the horseradish and ginger root. 
I then took my 4 quart jars and proceeded to divide them up.
 After dividing up the goods i covered them in ACV and put a lid on it.

Now what needs to be done is put them in a cool dark place and shake everyday for at least the next 12-14 days. This tonic will be used to ward off illness and to take if you do get sick to maybe make your sickness disappear faster! We will see how this turns out in a few weeks! Apparently it makes a fabulous marinade to!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I cant believe that it is February already! This weather is all over the map for sure! I have started getting my compost for the garden. Since we mostly container garden we need to refresh the soil. Since we have used this soil for 2 years now we are doing a total refresh! Mr. Fix it and Master chef have taken 20 of the tubs and dumped them into a spot that I want to till up to grow onions, beets and radishes. I tilled the spot before they dumped them into the space and have gone back and tilled the used compost all in! I have my list of plants that I want to purchase all ready to go for this season. I know alot of people ask me why i don't start my own. Well i have found a wholesale outlet that will let me purchase flats from them. They charge me $7 a flat, i just have to buy the whole flat and they want me to buy at least 20 flats. It is still cheaper to buy them from them then start them myself, this way i don't have to heat my greenhouse! 

Kidding season is over for us. It was an ok year. Had a few hiccups and now we have all healthy and happy kids! The mommas all look alot happier not being as wide as a tank!

Now is the time to start looking in some places for a final markdown on canning items. They are in the final push to get them out the door before the new items come in. I have found gallons of vinegar for .49¢, Mrs. Wages pickle mixes for .49¢ and also canning jars are marked down! Great time to stock up for that summer canning run!

What is on your planting list? Anything new? old? a go to? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Do you have a first aid kit? Do you know where it is? How old is it? Is everything inside still good? Would anyone else besides you know where to find it? It always seemed to work that way here when we needed it no one could seem to find it. I needed to find a solution to this always lost first aid kit. As I thought about this i came up with a great idea for a very easy to find first aid kit. I first started with this.

A red bucket was the perfect way to start my new never lost again first aid kit! Of course this was just the start. Now i needed a much better way to open and close this than those lids you need to have all your fingers, toes and elbows to open! After looking around I found these gamma lids. If you are not familiar with them this is what they look like.
I then went to the dollar tree and purchased alot of there items that i know that we would use up around here like triple antibiotic ointment, burn cream, band-aids, gauze pads, tape, oral tooth gel, eye drops and of course a multitude of other items that we like to keep around. 

I picked the red bucket as when you look at first aid kits the cross is most always red and white so this combination screams first aid and it is very easy for anyone to open it, you can even open it one handed if you have a cut and need in it. 

Living on a farm out in the country it is always nice to have a first aid kit that is well stocked with anything you might need or even anything your animals might need. 

So do you have a first aid kit AND do you know where it is?