Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Ride

Ron and I went for a leisure Sunday ride, the trees are absolutely beautiful.  Below are some pictures I took.  Click on the picture to make them screen size.  Enjoy.

An old school that is being used for storage of farm equipment.

The wooden structure is a box car being used for storage.

A vulture that was having a snack of raccoon and we interrupted him.  

An old school that is falling apart.

An outhouse at the below school, someone left the lid up.

An old school that looks like someone is restoring it.

On the fence nest to the below headstone.

As we were driving past this cemetery I saw these flags waving in the breeze so I had Ron back up and go in to see what caught my eye.  This gentleman was a veteran of WW II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.   The above sign was on the fence by this and my favorite season is fall.  It was not chance that I came upon this, the flags were signaling me to come and and read the sign. 
Blue juniper berries on the tree.  The blue caught my eye and I had Ron turn around so I could take some pictures.

This was not on our ride but was the pizza I made entirely from scratch when we came home from our ride. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tattler Lids, Review Coming Next Week

I received 1 dozen regular mouth lids and 1 dozen wide mouth lids yesterday in the mail to try.  I read all the info that came with the lids and am anxious to use them.  I will be using the dozen regular mouth lids to can some chili beans and want to do some black beans in some wide mouth jars.  I'm not sure how many wide mouth jars I have now and will have to check.  This year I have put up close to 700 jars of food and have paid $1.40 for regular and $2.20 for wide mouth lids.  The initial cost for Tattle Lids is a little pricey but the ability to reuse them sounds wonderful.  I will post my results next week when I use them.

Tattler Lids that I will be trying next week.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Beautiful Fall Friday

It was a beautiful fall day today so I took a trip down the tree line out back to look at everything.  The berries that are eaten by the birds are out and are bright red, I even saw some white ones.  There was small flowers in several spots and the trees are starting to turn some beautiful colors.
When Ron came home from work we added some more wire to tie up the berry bushes and they look really nice.  Ron also brought home some heavy metal decorative fencing and we put it in front of the sedum which help hold it up and I really like the look.  Ron works in a recycling yard and sometimes brings home very nice useful stuff.  Here are some pictures I took today when I was out enjoying the day.

Wild flowers.

Red berries and a giant bug.

White berries out back.

Side yard.

Front of the house with the nice colorful mums.

Mum in the side yard.

If you look closely you can see the decorative fencing we put in front of the sedum.  You can see where our yard ends and the hay field starts.  On the other side of the hay field is some woods where there is always deer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Where did all These Flies Come From??

Has anyone else noticed an increase of flies?  I can hardly go in and out the door without letting those pesky things in.  They are on the screens, on the doors and everywhere.  We've had to get out the fly swatter and make it a daily drudge to eliminate the ones who have invaded the house.  Maybe they are attracted to the house because they smell all those wonderful things I have been canning.  Whatever it is they can go away and stay away.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Product Review, Orrington Farms Chicken Broth Base

I have been wanting to try a broth base to add flavor to soups, stews and noodles that I make so I contacted Precision Foods about trying some of their bases.  They sent me some chicken, beef and ham base to try.  The package arrived today and it came at a perfect time.  We were having chicken vegetable soup for supper so I was able to try it right away.  I started out with a quart of water, shredded chicken from the freezer, a little salt and pepper and added 2 TBSP of the chicken flavor.  I brought this to a boil and added 1 quart of the mixed vegetable soup mix that I canned earlier this week.  I returned this to a boil and simmered for 10 minutes.  We let it cool down and then served it.  I've never used a base before so I was not sure how much to use and next time I will add a little more.  It had a very good flavor and my husband ate 2 bowls of it.  He said the flavor was good and agreed that the next time I need to use a little more.  I liked that it added flavor without using fat to achieve this.
My fall green beans will be ready to pick on Saturday and I will be using the Vegan, ham flavor when I cook them and will let you know how they turn out.  Now if I could get my husband to eat beef vegetable soup tomorrow I would try it but it will have to wait until next week.
Would I buy the chicken flavor base, yes.  An added bonus for me is the containers are the perfect size to use to put dried herbs in so I will be saving and recycling the containers.

 I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it and no other compensation was received for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinions.  

Orrington Farms Base to use for added flavor.

Chicken vegetable soup made with Chicken Broth Base.

Bowl of Chicken Vegetable Soup.

Garage Sales and Yard Work

Went to several garage sales this morning and picked up 4 dozen various sizes of canning jars for $8.  Several of the jars are vintage and I put them with the rest of the vintage jars.  If I sell them OK, if not I'll use them.  After the sales I mowed the grass.  The temp was only 70 and just perfect weather to work outside.  The trees are starting to turn some beautiful colors and some are loosing their leaves.  We have 5 maple trees in the yard and 2 are red maples.  One of the red maples has already lost 75% of its leaves.  I always bag my grass when I mow so instead of raking the leaves I just mow more often in the fall.  It looked so nice when I was done and then an hour or so later a few leaves littered up my nice clean yard.  Oh well for a few minutes it did look perfect.
The "girls" have been really nice and have been laying some nice size eggs.  Check out the size of the light brown egg in the middle of the basket.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Muggy Wednesday

Foggy, muggy fall day so it was a nice day to get some things done for the sale in 10 days.  I have everything priced and now need to get some signs made.  I will get the tables and shelves washed down next week that will be needed.  Renee came over and took some pictures so we could put the vintage canning jars on Craigslist, now we need to sell some.
When I was getting supper ready I saw some deer out back.  At this time of year we see deer out back a lot.  During the summer they are usually further down the field and in the fall they seem to migrate closer to our house.  Ron took some wire yesterday and made some protection for the apple tree trunks to keep the deer from destroying them.   We have never had a problem with them eating the garden so we are lucky.   I think the noise from the chickens help keep them out of our yard, or at least I hope they do.
Deer out back.

The sedum by the apple trees are beautiful.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day After Canning Chores

The day after canning all day is a little laid back but still a little busy.  Every jar needs to be checked to make sure it sealed, have the ring removed, the rings need washed, jars washed and everything put away.
First thing make sure the jar sealed, then it is important that you remove the rings from the sealed jars and to wash and dry them thoroughly.  I always add a little bleach to the water and use a scrubby to make sure they are clean.  Next I wash all the jars of food.  I add cool water to the sink, a little soap and some bleach and wash the jars down.  After they are dry I label them and then put them away to enjoy when needed.

Pickled Veggies

Yesterday while I was sitting watching and waiting on the canner I canned some pickled veggies.  I had some brine left from the pickled carrots and some left from the beets and need to use it up.   Aldi had cauliflower on sale this week for 99 cents a head so I picked up 3 heads of it.  I had lots of radishes from the Amish trip and 1 head of cabbage left over from the mixed veggies for soup.  First I did the cauliflower and got 10 pints, next I did the radishes and got 4 pints and last I pickled the head of cabbage and got 2 quarts.  3 pints of the cauliflower have the left over beet brine and the rest of the stuff have a generic pickling brine.  They all look so good and will make a nice addition to any meal and will be nice to serve at the holidays on the relish tray.
I am down to 1 empty pint jar :( and about 36 quart jars.  OMG where did all the jars go?  I have canned close to 700 jars of food this season.  WOW

2 qts of pickled cabbage, 4 pints of pickled radishes and 10 pints of pickled cauliflower.  The 3rd and 4th jar from the left
is cauliflower done with the beet brine.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Canning Vegetable Soup Mix

Today I canned a mix of vegetables that I can use to make vegetable soup.  This is a list of the vegetables I used:
Red potatoes cut in cubes and boiled for 2 minutes.
Baby carrots cut up and boiled for 5 minutes.
Onions, celery and peppers cut up and boiled for 2 minutes.
Cabbage that was shredded and boiled for 5 minutes.
Green beans cut up and boiled for 5 minutes.
Frozen corn boiled for 2 minutes.
Frozen baby lima beans boiled for 2 minutes.
Frozen peas boiled for 2 minutes.
Because I am a little OCD I added each vegetable in layers and this way each jar has the same amount of each item.  Cooking each item separately made for a lot of dirty pans but oh well.  I added a tsp salt to each jar, filled with boiling water, sealed and put them in the canner.  I filled each jar leaving 1" head space before I added the water and then left a 1/2" head space; I processed the quarts for 90 minutes at 11 lbs of pressure.
When I want to make beef vegetable soup all I have to do is to put the beef in the crock with a quart of tomatoes and cook until done.  Then I will add a quart of the mixed veggies, simmer for about 30 minutes and a delicious pot of soup is nice and ready.  I can use the same vegetables and add some shredded chicken or turkey and some chicken or turkey broth and have a chicken or turkey vegetable soup.
The red potatoes were the ones I got 50 lbs for $8, carrots from Aldi for 49 cent a bag, cabbage from Aldi for 69 cents a head, celery from Aldi for 79 cents, onions, peppers and green beans from my garden and a bag of frozen corn, peas and lima beans.  Having the vegetables canned and ready saves time and money and makes enough so we won't have a ton leftover, Ron and Ian are not real good about eating leftovers.  Total cost for the veggies was about $7.50 and I got 21 qts.

Vegetables layered in the jars.

14 of the 21 quarts of vegetable soup mix I canned today.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beautiful Fall Sunday

This weather is beautiful.  The sun was out, a little breeze occasionally and the trees are starting to turn colors.  This morning Ron and I cut up all the veggies I am going to use to make vegetable soup mix tomorrow.  Thank goodness for my KitchenAid and the attachments; they made the job of cutting some of the stuff easy.  We then went into town to deliver some eggs, a quick trip to the store and then back home.  I went out back and planted my garlic and then let the chickens out to roam the yard.  Ron and I sat out and watched them while they roamed around.  Why is it that the 2 places, garlic bed and pea bed, I didn't want them in they insisted going?  After a few times getting them out they went about eating grass and scratching around to find some goodies.  They got to stay out for a couple hours and then the fun began.  Close your eyes and picture this; Ron standing at the gate to the chicken yard with a hoe in his hand and me chasing the chickens with a long pole trying to get them to go back in their yard.  After several minutes, well maybe more than several minutes I was successful in getting them back in and locked up.  I don't know about them but I was tired after the chase.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Clothes Pin Bag

When we were down at the Amish auction we stopped at a couple of garage sales.  One of the sales was at an Amish home and I picked up a little girl's dress for 10 cents.  When I was a child my mother would take an old toddlers dress, sew it across the bottom and use it for a clothes pin bag.  I have been looking for a small dress at sales with no luck.  You hardly ever see little girls in dresses anymore.  With the dress came a apron/pinafore so I made 2 bags.  I was telling the young mother what I was going to use the dress for and she told me that was an excellent idea and now she was going to make some.  I told her that it was a good way to recycle old small dresses and I'm sure she could sell them.  Wonderful memories and now I have 2 clothes pin bags made from an a little Amish girl's dress.  LOVE IT.
My new clothes pin bags.

Canning Beets

Brandon spent the night last night so he was here to help me can my beets today.  He was in charge of  slipping the skins off the beets and putting them in the boiling water bath after I finished getting them in the jars.  Also when he is here he always takes all the pictures.  He likes taking photos and goes on photo shoots with our son once in a while.  I got 16 pints of beets and was surprised to get so much.  This will last until spring if I don't have them all the time.
For lunch today I fried some bacon, potatoes and scrambled eggs.  The bacon and potatoes were from the pantry that I had canned and eggs were from our girls and just laid yesterday.  Brandon loves bacon and since he was such a good help to me canning today I made his favorite meal.

This is the recipe I used today when canning the beets, I got it from my sister-in-law Gale back in the 70s:
2 c sugar
2 c water
2 c vinegar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 TBSP cinnamon
Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.  Pour this over hot beets that are in hot jars and process boiling water bath for 30 minutes.  This is enough to makes about 8 pints.

Beets and the brine.

16 pints that Brandon and I canned today.

monday's homestead barn hop

Friday, September 21, 2012

Last Amish Produce Auction of the Year for Us

Ron, Gina and I went down to the produce auction today for our last trip of this season.  They had a nice small variety of things but my luck in getting things real cheap didn't happen this time.  Gina did get several boxes of green peppers at $4 a box (about 50+ per box) and several boxes of eggplant for $3 a box (about 15 per box).  She also got 1 box of cucumbers, some Chinese radishes .55 cents a pint and two 1/2 gallon boxes of red radishes for $1 a box.   I got some radishes from her and that was all I got at the auction, I didn't need any peppers or eggplant.  They had acorn and butternut squash but it went for way too much for me.  We left there and went to the 2 stores where I picked up some bulk spices and some ham base, chicken base and beef base that I will use when I make soup.  On our way out of town we stopped at a Amish farm stand and picked up a couple acorn and butternut squash and 1 medium box of BEETS.  I was outbid on the beets at the auction and I wanted some more beets to can and also Renee wanted some.  I love my daughter but I am not sharing my beets.  I canned 6 pints in July and have ate 3 pints already.  I hope to get 8 - 10 pints from these and will do them tomorrow.   
When we were at one of the Amish stores where they have fresh baked items I picked up a "Whoopie Pie." I have read about how wonderful these are and I decided to try one.  I got a pumpkin whoopie pie and it is probably a good thing that we are not going down to that area for a while.  That thing was absolutely delicious; I can't even explain the taste.  I can only ask myself "why in the world did I wait until I was 61 before I tried one?"  If you are ever in an Amish community pick one up, you will not be disappointed.

Some of the pumpkins at the auction.

A huge white pumpkin at an Amish farm.

Another large white pumpkin at the same farm.

Children playing at an Amish school.

Amish school.

Children at the Amish school.

Some beautiful sheep at an Amish farm.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Quiet Thursday with Renee

I spent my day sitting and visiting with Renee today while Tony (son-in-law) had surgery.  He did real good and will be coming home tomorrow.  The hospital was so full they had to put him in a holding unit until about 6:30 tonight when a bed came available.
Renee and I took our laptops and we sat and looked at several of the blogs I follow and also looked up the value of some 1/2 pint canning jars Renee has.  OMG these Ball jars are worth $30 each and she has some paint in one.   I'm sure I have some jars that are worth more than the food that is in them.  Canning season is just about done for this year.  I will be canning some vegetable soup mix this weekend and next week I will be canning some chili beans.  After canning is completely done I have plenty of other things on my list.  One of the things I need to do is to make some noodles and also some spaghetti.  I dry them after they are made and then freeze them for whenever needed.  Then I need to make and freeze some pie crusts to have ready for the holidays and whenever we want a nice treat.  
Tomorrow is "Amish" day so it's off to bed for me.  Later, take care. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vintage Canning Jars DONE

I am finally done pricing and putting on the correct cap on the 160+ vintage canning jars.  I set up a space in the shed with the card table, laptop, book, plenty of light and tea.  At first it was a little cool but as the day went on it warmed up real nice.  I have a heater out there I could have used if it had been cooler.  Setting up out there was a lot easier than hauling jars in the house and then back to the table that is set up in the shed.  I have them all covered up to keep the dust off.   What I don't sell the 2 weekends of Spoon River Drive Renee will put them on craigslist and then we will go from there.  I have a rare Ball quart jar that is worth over $200, Ron thought I should bring it inside but it is OK where its at.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vintage Canning Jars

I finished pricing the vintage canning jars today.  Renee came over yesterday and we did some and I finished them today; now we need to add lids to them.  We need to add the original lid if at all possible to make them more valuable.  I have the lids sorted so the hard part is done.
Finished canning the russet potatoes that I started yesterday.  I am caught up with the things that need canned and an more than happy to take a small break.  Tomorrow I will work on the lids, Thursday I am going to sit with Renee when Tony has back surgery and Friday we are going down to Arthur, IL.
I did the yard work yesterday afternoon.  The yard looks like a park after it gets done.  The rain has turned the grass nice and green, the trees still have their leaves and the temp has been perfect.  Wonderful weather, keep days like this coming.
Later, take care.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday in the Midwest

I will take a whole year of days like this; sunny, temps in the 70s.  Got up early and finished washing the canning jars and then we went on a "Sunday Ride".  One of those drives when you come to a T in the road and you take turns saying which way to turn.  We saw a lot of farmers in the fields picking corn and saw a couple trucks filled with pumpkins heading to the Libby plant.  I'm surprised at the amount of fields that are already picked.   I planned on taking my camera and getting some early fall pictures but left it at home.
Tomorrow morning I will do the russet potatoes and hopefully I will get the yard mowed in the afternoon.  I would prefer to cut it first thing in the morning but with the heavy dew we have been getting it doesn't dry out until after 10:30.   On Tuesday the high is only going to be in the low 60s and going to get down to 40 that night.  It is cooling off way to fast for me.
Ron picked a lot of peppers when I was washing the jars so after supper we cut them up and I have 5 trays of them dehydrating in my Excalibur dehydrator.  I still have a lot of peppers on the plants and am still getting tomatoes and zucchini.  I picked a few green beans yesterday and will cook them tomorrow, I will be able to pick them again the end of the week.    Now I need for my peas to start blooming.  The extended forecast looks pretty good for the next 2 weeks so there should be plenty of time for them to produce some mighty fine peas.  I guess I need to think about getting my garlic in the ground soon.  There is never a shortage of things that need done.
Later, take care.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beautiful Saturday

Spent most of my day sitting out back and washing the vintage canning jars.  I am getting them ready to be priced so we can set them out on the 2 weekends of the Spoon River Drive.  We live off a major route of the drive that gets a lot of traffic and Renee and I will be setting up our crafts.  I will be putting out my rag rugs, soap and baskets along with some of the canning jars we picked up last month.  I will finish washing them up tomorrow and then I will start the pricing.  If you want to read about the Spoon River Drive check out the link here:
After washing the jars I might get started on canning the russet potatoes, I want to have them done by Thursday.  On Friday we will be going down to the Arthur Amish Produce Auction for the last time this season.  Of course we will go to the bulk food store and the salvage store while we are there.  Not sure what we will find as the growing season is about done.  I am hoping to get some squash, would love some beets and anything I could use to can mixed vegetables for soup.  I have red potatoes, onions, peppers and carrots so far.  If I can get some cabbage for it I could always use a bag of frozen corn and frozen lima beans.  When I get this mixed canned all I have to do is throw some beef in the crock pot, add a little water and cook.  About 2 hours before done add a jar of tomatoes and a jar of the soup vegetables and you have wonderful healthy vegetable beef soup.  You could also use chicken or turkey instead of beef.  Having so many things canned makes meal time easy and very cheap.  I added up the amount of jars of food I canned for myself this year and have about 600 jars done so far.  I am proud as a peacock when I look at all the stuff in my storage closet.  After the potatoes, vegetable soup mix and whatever I pick up Friday the only thing left on my list is chili beans and some black beans.  I will continue to dehydrate cherry tomatoes and peppers from my garden and when I find some celery and mushrooms on sale I will dehydrate them.  I am completely out of the celery I dehydrated last November, running low on dehydrated carrots and also low on mushrooms.  I won't get any of those items until I find them on sale.  I picked up 6 bags of carrots at Aldi today for 49 cent a pound; I will be using them for the vegetable soup mix and will dehydrate some.  Aldi is the best place to pick up fruit and vegetables on sale.  I look at the ad on line every Wednesday to see what they have special for the week.  I seldom buy anything unless it is on sale, this is the only way to live.  With my storage closet and the deep freezer we are pretty much set.  Now if I could only get Ron to stop buying candy we could save more money, oh well it could be worse.  :)
Later, take care.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Busy Wednesday and Thursday Canning

Getting things canned for this winter has kept me very busy the last few days.  I have canned 31 qts of different varieties of ham and beans the last 2 days.  We now have sm Lima beans, lg Lima Beans, pinto beans, navy beans and mixed beans.  Next  I will be doing the russet potatoes to have for mashed potatoes and then hopefully next weekend I will can a mixture of vegetables for vegetable beef soup.
The weather has really changed the last couple of days.   We have some rain moving in and it will get in the upper 40s tonight.  Just a couple of weeks ago it was in the 90s.  I love this cooler weather and appreciate the rain we have been getting.  The grass is so pretty and green and looks nice.  Soon the leaves will be covering the ground and the weather will be much cooler.  Summer is on the downward spiral the garden is almost done.  Plans for next years garden has started and the dreams of it have started to fill my head.  
Later, take care.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bacon and Potato Soup Mix are Done.

First thing; I need a remote control for the stove.  Getting up and down all the time to adjust the burner so the canner stays on the correct pressure is killing me.

Up before the sun today and had to turn on the outside light so I could see while I was hanging a load of laundry out.  Put on the last load of canned bacon and when that was done made a trip into town to get 50 lbs of Red Potatoes for $8.99.  Renee called last night and said her mother-in-law got potatoes at a True Value Hardware Store for $8.99.  I called them last night and sure enough they had Red or Russet potatoes for $8.99 for 50 lbs.  She said they get them every year about this time and are a big seller.  Renee and I split a bag and I've already used about half of mine to make the potato soup mix.  I will use the other half for some vegetable soup mix I want to make.  I will wait until we go for the last time down to the Amish auction on the 21st to see what all I can get to put in it.  The Russets I have I will can next week and use for mashed potatoes.
So for today I canned 7 qts of bacon and 14 qts of potato soup mix.  Tomorrow it will be some ham and beans.  I need to get the beans out to check and see what varieties I have and what I want to make.  Canning the ham and beans will be a 2 day thing and then Friday I am resting or at least that is what I am planning.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Canning Bacon and Experiment With Potato Soup Mix

Up bright and early to get a going on canning bacon today.   In the first load of bacon I added a jar of potato soup mix.  The mix has 1 tsp salt, 1/4 c dehydrated celery, cubed Yukon Gold potatoes and about 1/4 # of cut up bacon.  I added water and left 1" head space.  Because I added bacon it has to process at 10# for 90 minutes (qt jar).  I did not blanch the potatoes before adding because of the long processing time.  The second load I did the same thing but added Russet potatoes.  The Yukon's are from my garden and don't have that many to do very many jars so I picked up some Russets that are on sale for 88 cents for 5 #s this week.  When we want some potato soup all I have to do is open the jar, add a little water, heat and then add some canned milk and that is it.  The bacon used was the $1.35 # that I got down at the Amish store last month, the onions from my garden, the celery is from some I dehydrated last November when I got it for 29 cent a bunch.  A pretty cheap meal and oh so delicious.  I will watch the sales in November for can milk and stock up on it.   Now I need to try out both jars to see how the potatoes held up before I make more.  I am going to test one tomorrow for supper and will see if Renee will test the other one and will let you know the results.
If the Russets don't hold up because of the long processing time I am going to still can some without anything else added to use for mashed potatoes.  5 lbs for 88 cent is very cheap and should be able to get at least 4 quarts from each bag and I picked up 5 bags yesterday.
Just put in my final load of bacon for the day, 26 qts of bacon and 2 qts of potato soup mix.  I have 1 more load of bacon and will do it in the morning and then will start on jars of just potatoes for mashed potatoes.  Not a bad day at the old ladies house.  :)

Dehydrated celery, salt, chopped onion.

Added chopped bacon.

Potatoes and water were added, removed air bubbles and ready for the canner.

Potato soup mix, Yukon Gold on the left Russets on the right.  Just by looking closely I think I will not be making it with Russets but will wait for the taste test before the final decision.
The russet potatoes will not work, you need a "waxy" potato like the Yukon or Red.