Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quick Sauerkraut

My friend came over for the weekend and wanted to do some canning.  We picked veges at the farm and also went to our local farm market.  So we had two busy days of canning.  We canned 14 quarts of green beans, polish dill pickles, yellow banana peppers, beets, and then we started a batch of sauerkraut.  This is my first time trying sauerkraut.  I found a recipe from a pioneer cookbook for quick sauerkraut.  It is supposed to completely ferment in one week.  To do it the normal way it takes 6 weeks to ferment and be ready.  We just started on day four.  It is fermenting and looks pretty good so far.  I am hoping it ferments well and then I will can it. 

The only thing about the recipe is it gives you very little information  on how to process it.  I think all those old recipes just assume that everyone knew the process and all you needed was the recipe.

What is nice about this recipe is you make it in quart canning jars.  Great for those of us who don't have a big crock to make sauerkraut in or an area to let it ferment without having to smell it!!

To start you put 1 teaspoon of salt in the bottom of a quart jar.  Shred your cabbage and then pack into the jar.  I left 1 inch head space.  Put 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar on top of the cabbage.  Then cover with boiling water.  I put lids on and then screwed on the rims. I realized by the next day that I needed to take off the rims.  It was fermenting well and creating a lot of gas in the jars.  I kept the lids on but without the rims it allows for the gas to escape and not create to much pressure and have exploding cabbage.

This is the sauerkraut on day four.  It is fermenting and creating a lot of gas bubbles.
It should be ready to can on Saturday evening.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet Zucchini Relish

If you have a bumper crop of zucchini.  And let's face it, who doesn't?  You can use up a lot of those extra zucchini by making a batch of sweet zucchini relish.  I made this several years ago and finally used up all the jars.  It tastes great on hamburgers and hot dogs.  I use it to add to potato and macaroni salads too when I want a sweeter version. 

To start get several zucchini

Wash your zucchini and cut off the ends.  Then grate it into a large bowl or pot.  You will need 12 cups of grated zucchini.  Add to the zucchini 4 cups of chopped onion and 5 tablespoons of canning salt.

Using clean hands, mix the zucchini, onion, and salt together until well blended.  Cover it and put it in the fridge over night. The salt helps draw out all the water from the onions and zucchini.

The next morning drain the zucchini.  Rinse well with cold water and drain again.  Then squeeze out excess.

While my zucchini and onion was draining I rehydrated some green peppers.  The recipe calls for one large green pepper and one large red pepper.  We don't have any of these ready yet in the garden.  Luckily I dehydrated a bunch last fall.  To rehydrate I put my peppers into a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then cover with a lid and take off the heat.  With in 10 minutes they will be rehydrated.

In a stock pot put in 6 cups of sugar, 2 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 tablespoon of clear jel, 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1 1/2 teaspoons of celery seed, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.  Stir together well.

Add the zucchini and peppers and mix well.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Take off the heat and put into clean, hot, and sterilized pint jars.  I you will get between 7 and 8 pints jars.  You can see how after it has cooked it has thickened up quite a bit and turned a nice deep greenish yellow color.

Wipe your rims clean and put on new hot lids.  Screw on the rings and tighten. Here are my jars waiting to go into the canner.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Let cool and test for proper seals!

Sweet Zucchini Relish
12 cups of grated zucchini (Do not peel)
4 cups chopped onion
5 tablespoons of canning salt
6 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon clear jel
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped

Mix zucchini, onion, and salt.  Cover and put in the fridge over night.  Drain well and rinse with cold water.  Drain and squeeze out excess water.

Put remaining ingredients into a stock pot.  Stir well.  Add the zucchini mixture.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Put into hot sterilized jars.  Adjust caps and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Yields: 7-8 pints

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Seven-Minute Pudding

I love this recipe for a quick and easy pudding.  My family loves the custard like flavor and texture of it too.  It is made in the microwave in 7 minutes.  I found this recipe a long time ago in one of my Taste of Home Magazines.  You can find the recipe here.
I often make this when I have left over egg yolks from making white cake.  Today I made cup cakes for a bridal shower tomorrow.  So I had 3 egg yolks left over.  I made a batch and a half of this pudding.

To make a batch just put 2 cups milk, 2 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into a large microwave safe bowl.  Whisk it together until well blended.  Put in the microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Pull out and whisk until smooth.  Microwave for another 2 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into individual bowls.  I like to sprinkle a little nutmeg on top of mine.  Let cool. 
My family enjoys eating these when they are still slightly warm. I love these little custard cups.  They are from pampered chef and have lids to them.  You can actually bake in them too.  It is nice that if you have any left overs you can put the lid on the cup and put it into the fridge!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pittsburgh Steeler Raggedy Andy

I have a friend who is having a baby soon.  She is having a boy and is from Pennsylvania.  She is a huge Pittsburgh Steeler fan.  My hubby is too and so are my sons.  Which is some what frowned upon in Ohio.  Kind of like rooting for Michigan instead of Ohio State.  My mom made the younger grandsons Raggedy Andy dolls a few years back. She made my brother's kids Ohio State Raggedy Andy's and my son a Pittsburgh Steeler Raggedy Andy.  My 8 year old still sleeps with his.  It is his best friend.  Kind of an imaginary friend for him.  He straps him in with a seat belt in the car and all!

I knew that when my friend got pregnant I had to make one for her.  So I waited to find out what she was having.  If she was having a girl I would of made her a Raggedy Ann doll.

It turned out really cute and my son was ready to trade in his very worn Raggedy Andy.  I had to tell him no that this was for someone else.

My son insisted that I took a picture with his Raggedy Andy Doll.
His doll is appropriately named Steeler.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Teaching My Kids to Can

My kids have always been involved in some way in the canning process.  Normally though it is in the preparation.  My kids have learned from an early age how to snap green beans and shell peas.  They know how to get apples ready for applesauce and how to crank the food strainer to make tomato juice.  Now that they are getting older and I trust them more around the stove I thought it was time to let them go through the entire canning process.

My oldest boy is away at boy scout camp. So my younger son (who is always used to having someone around to play with) is bored out of his mind.  He planted some tomato and green pepper plants at the farm this year.  His tomatoes were ripe.  He loves salsa and wanted to make some.  So I suggested that he should make a batch of salsa and can it.  He was thrilled with the idea.  So my 8 year old canned salsa for the very first time. To see  how I can salsa go to my post on Salsa.

First I had him get the vegetables ready.  I did let him cut up vegetables.  I showed him how to use the knife and I watched him.  I also made sure that he didn't have an extremely sharp knife.

He did not have enough green peppers so we hydrated some that I dried
last year.  Those plus the one pepper he had made up the cups he needed.

Once all of his vegetables were cut up I had him measure them out and put them in the pot.  He measured his other ingredients and put them in the pot too.  Then on the stove it went and cooked for a little bit.

Next he ladled his salsa into his jars.  He really enjoyed this part.  And he learned quite quickly how full to get it to leave his 1/2 inch head space.

He then put the lids on the jar with the magnet.  He has always helped with this part of canning.  He loves to do this part.

I had him screw on the rims too.  He noticed that the jars were hot.  So He got a hot pad to hold on to the rest of the jars while he screwed on the rims.

Then I let him use the jar lifter to put all of his jars into the canner.  He did a good job at making sure he kept it squeezed tightly so he would not drop a jar.

After the jars had processed I also let him take the jars out of the water.  He did a great job at making sure he kept the jar lifter squeezed tightly and did not drop any of his jars. 

He got 6 pint jars of salsa that he can put in the pantry.  After the jars have completely cooled I will have him label them too. 

Kids learn by doing.  I learned to can by helping my mom for years.  I don't have any girls to hand down this craft to so I am teaching my boys.  Canning is a lost art that is really coming back now.  So many people are getting into it and prefer to have their own food.  Plus with my kids allergies, who knows what their kids will have.  It will be nice for them to know how to do this and be able to provide food for their families when they grow up.  So now that my boys are old enough to work around the stove I will be letting them get a lot more involved in the canning process!

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Pickled Carrots

No your eyes are not deceiving you.  These are carrots.  My mom bought various colored carrot seeds this year.  The pretty colors make it more fun for kids to enjoy their vegetables.  You can see that the purple carrots are only skin deep.  They are orange once you peel them.  The yellow carrots are yellow on the inside too.

Once I got them peeled it was interesting to find that some of the purple carrots had a yellow center.  I don't know if this is normal or if they crossed with the yellow carrots.  They were all planted in the same row.  A little side note though.  I looked up to see what the purple carrots were supposed to look like.  I found out that all carrots prior to the 17th century were purple.  They even had purple flesh. Some were white and yellow.  Dutch growers took the purple, yellow, and white and mutated them to get the orange color that is widely known today.  Who knew??!!   People are starting to seek out heirloom and heritage variety of vegetables and now the purple, white, and yellow variety of carrots are becoming more widely available.

To make pickled carrots, wash, peel, and slice the carrots about 1/2 inch thick.  I used my wavy vegetable cutter to make them a little more fancier.  Start with about 3 pounds of carrots.  This will make about 4 pints.  I did not have enough and only got 2 pints.  But I still wanted to try this recipe.

Bring to boil 5 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar, and 2 teaspoons of canning salt.  Boil for 3 minutes and then add your carrots.  Bring back to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  You want them about half cooked. 

While the carrots are cooking prepare your jars.  In clean, hot, sterilized jars put 2 teaspoons of mustard seed and 1 teaspoon of celery seed. 

When carrots are done ladle into jars. Leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Fill with vinegar solution to 1/2 inch head space.  Clean rims and put on new lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day of Preserving

I spent the day preserving my harvest.  I canned and dehydrated some things that I picked last night.  I also picked more veges this morning so I canned those too.  For me canning season normally starts with canning green beans.  I normally will do a batch of jelly or jam in late spring or early summer.  But my canning season seems to officially open when the first harvest of green beans are ready.  It seems after that I don't stop canning until late fall. 

I have a lot of green beans still in my pantry from last season so I decided to make up some pickled dill beans.  My family loves these more than pickles.  Last year I only made up one batch of them. And we used them all up.  So I made 24 pints of "dilly beans" this year.  To get the recipe and instructions look at my post on Dilly Beans.

I then made the zucchini and yellow summer squash into some zucchini chips.  To see how to make these look at my post on Zucchini Chips.

I then canned 7 quarts of green beans.  We ate some yellow beans for lunch.  Then I started on the beets.  I thinned out part of a row of beets this morning.  There were a bunch of large ones in there.  I had a few jars of beets left from last year too.  Only 2 people in our family eat beets so I normally don't do a lot of them.  My son likes pickled beets better than just cooked beets so I decided to can a batch of pickled beets.

You basically prepare your beets the same way as if you were canning them.  Except when you are pickling them you cook them until tender. Cut the stems off the beets leaving about an inch. Leave the roots on and wash real well.  Then sort them by size and cover them in water and bring to a boil.  Cook until tender (about 25-30 minutes depending on size).  I cooked mine in two batches.  I put the smaller ones in together and cooked for 25 minutes.  I put the larger ones together and cooked for 30 minutes.  Drain the beets and let cool.  Cut off stem and roots and slip off skin.  Slice into 1/4 inch slices. 

To make syrup bring 4 cups vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, 2 cinnamon sticks, 12 whole cloves, and 12 whole allspice to a boil.  Add the beets (about 7 pounds for this syrup, if you have more just make more syrup) Simmer for 5 minutes.  Put beets in clean and sterilized pint jars.  I put the cinnamon sticks in a few jars and let the allspice and cloves go into the jars too.  Cover the beets with vinegar mixture leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes. I ended up with 9 pints of pickled beets.

I picked a few carrots too.  I think I might try making some pickled carrots tomorrow.  If  I have the energy to!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Bounty

The family garden is beginning to reap it's harvest. I have been weeding some things but other things are ready to harvest.  I picked a basket full of fresh vegetables this evening.  I just bought this new basket.  It is a collapsible basket so it is perfect for storage.  I love the padded handles.  I have been wanting one of these for a while so I was excited when they put them in the clearance section.

There was still several more rows of beans to pick and carrots and beets.  But I was getting tired and I only like to pick as much as I can preserve in a couple of days. 

The basket was almost full of green and yellow beans.  From the left is a patty pan squash, zucchini and yellow summer squash, a striped zucchini, and dill.  At the bottom is straight eight cucumbers and grape leaves.  The dill and grape leaves are for dilly beans!!

I had no clue how big this basket was.  When I emptied out the beans into my stock pot it was over flowing.  It is nice to have a basket of goodies from the garden.  The tomatoes are starting to get ripe now too.  So I know in a couple of weeks I will be canning a lot of sauce!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fresh Raspberry Pie

Last night I picked a quart of red raspberries.  It was not enough to make a batch of jam so I decided to make a fresh raspberry pie.  I haven't made a fresh fruit pie in a while so I looked for a recipe in my old taste of home magazines.  I found a recipe that I thought I would try. 

You can find the recipe here.

For  the crust all you need is 1 1/4 cup flour, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, and 1/2 cup cold butter.
Mix the butter in until crumbly and press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie pan.  Bake for 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-22 minutes or until browned. 

The crust compliments the pie well.  It has a slightly sweet and buttery taste.  But it was a mess to try and get into the pan and I found it hard to get out of the pan too.  The next time I make it I will just make my own pie crust that you roll out.  You can find the recipe on my blog on mulberry pie. I liked the taste of the crust above but just found it hard to work with.

Let the crust cool and make the filling.
You need 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1 1/2 cups cold water, 3 tablespoons of corn syrup.  Mix together and bring to a boil.  Boil and stir for 2 minutes until thickened.  Take off heat and add 1/4 cup strawberry gelatin powder and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  Let cool for 30 minutes. 

Wash and drain your red raspberries.  I normally put mine in a bowl after I pick them and cover them with water.  This forces any of the bugs or little worms out of the raspberries. I then drain them well.

Gently mix the raspberries into the filling and pour into the baked pie crust.  Put in the fridge and let set up for several hours.  Then enjoy!!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Elephant Toy Box

My 11 year old son took woodworking this year for 4-H.  I kind of encouraged (OK, I sort of forced) him to take woodworking.  I knew he would love it and be good at it.  He is very creative with his hands and enjoys making things.  I am also trying to get him to try new things instead of only doing nature projects.  He is also taking Reptiles and Amphibians.  So he got to take his nature project.

So in order to ensure he would enjoy the project we had him pick out something he would enjoy making and would love to have after it was finished.  We scoured the Internet and found all kinds of great plans.  He finally decided on the plans for the Elephant Toy Box.  It said it was for beginners and it seemed simple enough for him to do.

He really enjoyed learning to work with a tape measure, square, and cross cut saw.  He for some reason really enjoyed using a rasp.  He just thought it was so neat how it rounded corners with ease! The scroll saw was a lot of fun for him too.  After spending almost a week sanding he decided that next year he would choose a smaller project. 

He did eventually get it all sanded and put together.  Then 4 coats of clear acrylic sealer and more sanding with steel wool.  He finally finished it.  I know it is not perfect but for a young kids first project it is pretty amazing.  My husband and I are so proud of him.  He has something that he will have for many years and be able to give to his kids when he is older.  Next week is judging so I am hoping he does well.

It also has a tail on the end.  The brown eye is a large plastic safety eye. It also has casters on the bottom so it can easily be moved around in his room.  Isn't it cute.  He has named it Buddy!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zucchini Chips

It's that time of summer again, when the zucchini plants begin producing like crazy.  Ours have just begun and I wanted to try something different.  My son who could taste that zucchini bread back in February when he planted seeds, had to make some zucchini bread.  So I let him make his own bread.  He also likes a dip made out of grated zucchini.  I saw a blog a while back that showed how to make zucchini chips with your dehydrator.  So we made some of those too!!

It is super simple.  First wash and then slice your zucchini thin.  Then I sprayed the zucchini with a little vegetable oil and added salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.  Then I placed them right onto the dehydrator trays.

I set my dehydrator on the fruit and vegetable setting which is 135 degrees Fahrenheit.  And let it dehydrate.  It took about 7 hours for them to get nice and crisp.  They shrink up a bit.  They didn't shrink that much.  Some little fingers got into them before I had a chance to snap a photo.

I pulled them off and let set on a paper towel to absorb a little of the oil.  I put the rest in an airtight container but I don't anticipate them lasting long.  They are absolutely fabulous. It got two thumbs up from my kids.  Especially my  very picky eater who the doctor told him today at his annual check up that he needs to eat more veges and stay away from junk food. He was so happy that he was eating healthy and that they tasted just like potato chips!!!

I am sure we will be making these again.  I am going to experiment with different flavors.  I will probably use a little less oil so they don't feel greasy like chips.  But there really isn't that much oil on them.  One website suggested to use a packet of ranch dressing mix.  I will try that with my next batch!

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