Monthly Archives: October 2013

Canning wild game, a non electric storage opption

 As  some of you already know my family lives as much as possible on the land that surrounds us and the bounty that God provides. This includes fall hunting for wild game and fishing as much as possible for our food. My problem has always been what to do with all the meat that the boys bring into me. Well of course we freeze a large portion of our meat and fish but three years ago we went with out electric for about 10 days and lost most of our families food. This brought up the conversation about going back to canning at least a portion of our meats so we would not  lose all of our food again.

 My husbands family has cold packed canned deer and pork for over 40 years mostly because the quality of meat when it comes out of the jars is OUT STANDING. The high pressure and moister combine and make the most tender juicey meat. The only way to explain it is to think pulled pork that all you have to do is open the jar and pour out. We can deer meat for BBQ sandwiches and I make a wonderful deer tips with gravy out of. The meat is safely stored for two years and is easy to transport to hunting camps and on summer camping trips. The meat is already cooked, warm the contents and eat.

To start with I suggest that anyone wanting to learn more about the safety and processes of home canning get a good canning book like this one.

Ball blue book of canning copy right 1970

Ball blue book of canning copy right 1970

Processing of meats MUST MUST MUST be done under presser so this process is not for those who use the boiling water bath method. Meat is very easy to process but the time involved is a little lengthy. The average time is 1:30 of cooking time so I plan about 4 to 5 hours from boneing out the deer to the end of the canning process. One nice size white tail deer will make about 7 quarts of cold packed stew meat. In this case I made 6 Jars and had about 11/2 lbs left over I wanted to use in another way.

First, as always wash and sterilise your jars rings and lids, and look for chips or cracks in the jars.This defect will prevent the jars from sealing properly and spoil the meat or make a huge mess in the canner. I use quart jars and this will make about 4 portions of meat per jar. You can use pints and adjust the cooking time accordingly ( pints process for 1 hour 15 mintues).

I start my canning preparations with washing everything down with a little bleach water that includes my cutting boards and knives and even the table where I am cutting the meat. We cover everything with butcher paper and get the meat ready to debone.

white tail deer meat ready to be deboned

white tail deer meat ready to be deboned

 We do not can the tenderloin pictured above left. They are tender enough on their own but the remaining steaks and roasts get processed.  The only requirement is that the pieces of meat are about bite size and fit in the mouth of your jars easily. We try to remove any excess fat or connective tissues. Cold packing jars saves time but the meat can be cooked and packed hot with a broth in jars also.

bite size pieces of deer steak

bite size pieces of deer steak

 These pieces get packed into warm sanitized jars and with a wooded spoon. I push firmly to pack meat into the jars this removes excess air gaps and fills the jars full. You need a one inch head space in the jar to prevent the natural juices from leaking out of the jars as it boils in the canner.

deer meat ready to be packed in jars

deer meat ready  for jars

The fuller the jars the better it is, the nature broth will not cover loosely packed meat and this can lead to discolored meat after storage.

using a funnel keeps jars cleaner when packing

using a funnel keeps jars cleaner when packing

At this point you have the option of adding salt to your meat, we add 1 teaspoon per quart of meat. It is not a necessary item but does make the broth and meat more flavorful so we choice to use it.

adding salt to canning jars of meat

adding salt to canning jars of meat

 The next step is to clean the lip of the jar and make sure no salt or meat residue remains on jar to prevent the lids from sealing. Then add the lids and seal to jars and place them in the canning with enough water to cover the jars by at least one inch of water.

canning jars in pressure canner with water

canning jars in pressure canner with water

  Then cover the canner and start a high fire. Venison is canned at 10 lbs of pressure for 1 hour and 30 minutes making it take around 2 hours total. The first 30 minutes is for the heat to raise into the canner to reach 10 lbs pressure. I usually let my canner cool over night so the cooling process doesn’t interfere with use of my stove. In the morning the jars and water are still hot to the touch but ready to remove from the canner.

  At this point the jars are cooling and I check to make sure all the seals are tight and each jar is clean. I usually risen them before adding the name of the contents and date.  I usually process at least two deer every year this way and this gives us security that even if the power goes out we will have fresh safe meat to eat.

canned deer meat and my hard working canner

canned deer meat and my hard-working canner

 Don’t be surprise that after you jars have cooled even further that a small amount of fat appears in the jars. It is not seen when the jars are warm and slowly forms on the top of the broth. It is totally safe and not going to spoil. The fatter the meat the more fat will form in the top of the jar. In this case venison is very lean and usually less than a teaspoon of fat collects in the jar after canning.

This process is the same useing beef or pork. The only changes that are made are for cooked meats and stews or soups. That is when you really love having your “Ball Canning Guide” so that every thing is safe and healthy.


Categories: canning, country cooking, deer, deer hunting, Hunting, Venison | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

My love for Fog photos of West Virginia

 I love the fog, it is so much a part of our lives here. It rises off the streams and lakes in spring and summer in the early mornings.It makes me wait for the sun to shine pure and strong.

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

fog and trees stone coal lake West Virginia

fog and trees stone coal lake West Virginia

Morning fog on the farm in Jane Lew, West Virginia

Morning fog on the farm in Jane Lew, West Virginia

It creeps across the land in the fall and winter so dense and thick that you are unable to see the hand in front of your face. It makes you believe in the images created in movies where all the mysteries of life are hiding in the fog. It swallows things whole leaving just a shadow of an image for you to see.

Iron train bridge in Foggy West Virginia

Iron train bridge in Foggy West Virginia

Fog blocking sight of a road

Fog blocking sight of a road

 It dances and hides on mountain tops not ready to leave when the sun says it is time to rise from the ground and head home to the sky.

driving into the fog on rout 33 elkins

driving into the fog on route 33 Elkins

view of fog in mountains at Burnsvill West Virginia

view of fog in mountains at Burnsvill West Virginia

 It reaches out to you and blankets you with it misty curtain of silence….. leaving you in a world of imagination.

New River Gourge fog photo from thier wed site

New River  fog photo from their wed site

Foggy trees in the back yard

Foggy trees in the back yard

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Personal art work, Photos, West Virginia | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Puffball mushrooms, Safty tips and Recipe.

  This time of year in West Virginia is a blend of late summer heat and cool rainy days. Perfect weather for wild mushrooms. This last week has been full of friends dropping by saying, ” While we were out in the ( you pick the place), woods, river bank or yard, we found this… mushroom. We were wondering if you can eat it ; do you know what this one is? Well most of our  friends do know something about mushrooms so they do look for the edible ones but it is always nice to have some one back you up on what you have and if you should eat it.

two puffball mushrooms cut in half each one larger then a large onion

two Puffball mushrooms cut in half each one larger than a large onion

    On Tues a friend dropped these two mushrooms off at the house he found them on the creek bank behind his house.  Puffball mushrooms are very common and easy to find but to need  cut in half when small to make sure they are not Earthballs or confused with a starting bud of the POISONOUS AGARIC mushroom. At this size a Puffball can not be  confused with any other mushroom making it very safe to harvest. Earthballs are small round mushrooms that are a dark purple inside and smell very strong they are not for eating. The other poisonous agaric mushroom also forms into a white button when small and eventually forms a traditional ” toads stool” when mature.                                                           

 If you were to confuse the two while small the safety tip is:

    Slice open the ball and see if an egg-shaped cap appears inside the button,in some cases it looks like the soft outline of a mushroom growing inside the button. Do not eat the ones that have anything inside other than creamy white flesh.The inside of the Puffball is white and looks like cream cheese.It can be sliced and fried or chopped for other uses. Use them fresh and do not let the mushroom turn grainy or chunky that is a sign that the mushroom is deteriorating and spoiled. Always cook wild mushrooms some people are sensitive and could get an upset stomach when eating any mushroom cooking does help reduce the chance of an upset.

The frist step to cooking a Puffball is to remove the outside skin. This leaves you with the creamy white clean insides to eat.

The outer skin removed from a large Puffball mushroom

The outer skin removed from a large Puffball mushroom

     Again this was a 1 pound mushroom  so with company on the way for dinner I thought an appetizer was in order and took half of the mushroom and chopped it fine and made a warm mushroom dip with garlic crackers. The dip  left on the thin side has many uses like sauce for chicken or over noodles for a meatless mushroom meal.

This is what the thickened dip looks like and it was a hit with company as I finished making the rest of dinner.

Puffball warm chip dip

Puffball warm chip dip

    Warm Puffball chip dip

1/2 pound mushroom finely chopped ( any mushroom will do)

1 stick butter softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced onion

3/4 pound of sour cream

1 bouillon cube (dissolved) or 1 Korr chicken broth tub

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons flour ( optional, omit for sauce)

chips, crackers, or vegetable slices

 1. Saute mushrooms in a large frying pan on medium heat with 5 tablespoons butter and lemon juice until tender.

2. Add finely chopped onion.

3. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Add sour cream, bouillon granules, and salt and pepper and simmer 3 minutes.

5. mix flour and two table spoons butter together into a paste  use as a thickener for dip.

6. Add paste to hot sauce and stir until thickened.

7. serve warm in a fondue pot in small slow cooker for party’s.

 yields about 3 to 4 cups.

   In my effort to learn more about mushrooms I have gained lots of safety tips and the above recipe from the wonderful book listed below. It is the book that we use the most.  I think every beginner should have a copy the photos are wonderful and the information shared is simple and easy to use. I take it with us every time we are out in the woods.

             “Wild Edible Mushrooms”

             tips and recipes for every mushroom hunter 

                                by Hope H Miller.

The book is easily found on Amazon at this link

My son also bought me a second identification book for my birthday it is more of a traditional field guide with thousands of mushrooms and drawings. It is useful to give a second description for a new mushroom and is handy for ones that look so similar. It is recommend having at lest two books to use while trying to identify wild mushrooms.


                          Peterson field guides

               By Kent h. Mckight/ Vera B. Mcknight

again the Amazon link

  This book covers a larger verity of mushrooms and is handy when a question about what verity you are looking at or what ones are edible.Since we focus our time on the edible ones I use this book less often, but find it useful. Amazon lists several field guides, and regional guides to help with identification.

 Mushroom hunting has been on of the best hobbies that our family enjoyed  the last few years. It is something everyone can do and share in from the littlest in our family to the oldest. The locations are not limited to the woods. As I explained the Puffball above was found in my husbands best friends back yard along a creek bank .So even a nice walk through a park or  stream side maybe the place to find wonderful mushrooms to share. It is the time together walking, cooking and eating that makes this experience so much fun and healthy. It is nother way for me to eat healthier and be less dependant on society for my food. It is hard to believe but just one Puffball made about 3 quarts of meatless soup and a wonderful dip for entertaining all free for the taking. It is a lesson I am so glad I am learning.

Tom and Christopher mushroom hunting in Jane Lew , Wv

Tom and Christopher mushroom hunting in Jane Lew , W.V.








Categories: cooking, family fun, Foraging, Jane Lew, Mushrooms, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bridge Day, New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia 2012-13

  My family traveled to Bridge Day for the frist time last year and I have been wanting to go back all summer.The weekend of Oct. 19 we are all headed back to Fayette County West Virginia for the biggest festival in our state. The things that are so appealing about this festival are the time of year, the low-cost, the experience of being able to walk on the second largest arch bridges in the world and cheering on BASE jumpers who for one day every year have legal rights to jump off the bridge and hope to land safely in the gorge below.

two BASE Jumpers floating in the air at BridgeDay, Fayetteville,WV

two BASE Jumpers floating in the air at Bridge Day, Fayetteville,WV

My family travelled to Fayetteville, West Virginia for the festival and my 43 birthday. The trip took us about 2 hours from my home in the central part of the state. This  is the most beautiful time to travel in West Virginia, as mid Oct is the height of the leaf color. The views along the interstate 79 south and Highway 19 were breath-taking. I made Tom stop the car several times to take photos along the way back.

Fall folage on hwy 19 in Fayette county West Virginia ...Tom holding Christopher

Fall foliage on hwy 19 in Fayette county West Virginia …Tom holding Christopher

When you arrive to the Bridge there are several places that the park uses for parking the cars of the 80,000… spectators they had in 2012. Most are campgrounds or churches. From these make shift parking lots the park service employees load you on school buses and takes you out to the end of the bridge for a reasonable fare of $2 dollars a rider, kids under 6 are free. This 2$ fee is the only fee charged the whole time you are at the festival unless you choose to buy something. 

As you step off the bus the amount of people who are walking the bridge is then visible. Personally have never seen this many people at one place at one time before. I was over whelmed but never really felt closed-in unless you were at the back of the launch stand where the BASE jumpers were diving off the bridge.

crowds at the entrance of the Bridge Day

crowds at the entrance of the Bridge Day

Once we passed under the “Red Bull” arch the crowds thinned out and walking in groups was very easy. Then you start out over the gorge and my heart pounded and I was so excited to finally get the chance to look down over the edge of my favorite bridge.OK, I do have a real soft spot for bridges and this one is my favorite by far. 

This is the view from the top of the bridge to show you what we were seeing. Christopher’s head is in this photo as he LOVED watching the jumpers canapes open with the beautiful colors drifting down. The photo below shows two jumpers almost ready to land.

Veiw from the New River Gorge Bridge to the river below on Bridge Day 2012

View from the New River Gorge Bridge to the river below on Bridge Day 2012

unknown photographer taken from the Bridge day wedsite

unknown photographer taken from the Bridge day website

 The BASE jumping begins at about 11am and we had arrived about 10am so the kids and I  began to explore the venders at each end of the bridge. They have no services on the bridge itself so if you want food or a restroom you end up walking the length of the bridge ( .57 mile long) to get a hot polish sausage or lemonade. Then we headed back on the main body of the bridge to see the jumpers… This was my view most of the remainder of the day.

Bridge Day sectators on the New River Gorge Bridge ...

Bridge Day spectators on the New River Gorge Bridge …

 The 400 BASE Jumpers wrap up their day around 3pm and we watched the very last jumpers go over the bridges edge in a set of three jumpers. It was a beautiful to see and insightful to see who and why people jump. Some of the jumpers are doing the jump in memory of lost loved ones. Some do it for pay…..”RED BULL” …extreme sports team is always their with music and head cameras going as jumpers film them selves flinging off the edge in a human catapult. Others are trying to have a great life and just enjoy the thrill of it. The oldest jumper last year was a man in his 80’s who just charmed the crowd with his presence. The link below is of the Human Catapult at the 2012 Bridge day event the frist time the festival used it.

Below is a photo of the rig used to let the jumpers leap from the bridge.

Base jumpers getting ready to leap of New River Gorge Bridge. Bridge Day 2012

Base jumpers getting ready to leap of New River Gorge Bridge. Bridge Day 2012

 Their at also other activities going on before during and after the main event of Base jumping so it is wise to plan ahead and use the official “Bridge Day” website to get more information on times and hotel information if you want to make it a weekend event. 

and for other activities that happen at and around the New River or the Bridge contact adventure travel.Thier web site includes information about white water rafting and rappelling from the bridge.

 As our day slowly came to a close I wanted to take a few photos on the bridge with my family as a nice reminder of one of  the best birthdays I have ever had. I was able to get some great family photos that day as it the weather was a cool 53 degrees and over cast. I loved it because everyone looks better with rosy cheeks.

My family at Bridge Day 2012. Tom, Cody, Christopher and Jolynn Powers oct 2012

My family at Bridge Day 2012. Tom, Cody, Christopher and Jolynn Powers Oct 2012

and I got a wonderful photo of my grand-daughter and sons wife that day too!

young family at Bridge day 2012 Cody, Jamie and Paige Powers

young family at Bridge day 2012 Cody, Jamie and Paige Powers

We then walked back across the Bridge the other 3,030 feet (.57 of mileage) to the bus pick up location. We had eaten wonderful hot food and kettle corn, gotten free bead necklaces, herd rock music and talked to people from all over the country and Europe. This is the most widely watched extreme sport in the united states and is the best tank of gas and 2$ I have ever spent. It is well worth the trip to see and share in all the fun and was a great way to celebrate me just getting another year older.

As a side note, none of the jumpers were injured or killed at this years festival but as a warning to anyone who wants to attend. People have been seriously injured or killed at this event and many of the jumpers land in the ice-cold water bellow. So remember that it is possible that you may witness some thing that goes wrong and have to leave the area so that emergency personnel can have access to the bridge or surrounding areas. 

Again  it is a wonderful event and at the perfect time of year so enjoy the 2013 Bridge Day  on Saturday Oct 19 and watch some thing amazing.

New River Gorge Bridge with fall folage 2000 by jolynn powers

New River Gorge Bridge with fall foliage 2000 by jolynn powers

Categories: Bridge Day, New River Gorge, State Park activities, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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