canning

Creamed Tomato on Biscuits

One of my favorite Appalachian dishes is Creamed Tomatoes. Making it from a batch of garden tomatoes in late summer is a real treat. I always look forward to eating tomatoes from the garden but there is something wonderful about fresh biscuits hot from the oven topped with butter and fresh creamed tomatoes for breakfast that makes the morning so much better. Creaming tomatoes or any other creamed vegetable is not as popular as it once was because people rarely want to take the time to blanch tomatoes anymore. But if I am already blanching them for sauce or canning, saving a few tomatoes for breakfast is no trouble at all. As long as you have some kind of pealed tomatoes available you can use fresh or canned tomatoes. In the true southern tradition, homemade biscuits make this breakfast a feast.

 

Creamed Tomatoed over Biscuits for two servings.

6 Roma tomatoes, or 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, or a mixture blanched and peeled.

1/2 cup whole milk.

2 heaping Tablespoons corn starch.

5 Tablespoon warm water.

2 Tablespoons sugar.

1/8 teaspoon salt.

pepper to taste.

For fresh tomatoes, you will need to blanch and peel at least 6 Roma tomatoes or 2 large beefsteak tomatoes. To blanch tomatoes boil enough water to cover tomatoes. Place tomatoes in boiling water for three minutes until skins wrinkle. Remove from heat and place in a sink or bowl of very cold water for about four minutes and slide peels sink tomatoes. Crush tomatoes with your hands into saucepan removing the core if it is white and tough. Simmer over med-high heat until tomatoes soften and turn to a chunky sauce adding 1/2 cup of milk. Stir mixture and heat back to simmer. In a cup or bowl put two heaping tablespoons corn starch and 5 Tablespoons warm water making a very runny paste. Mix until lumps are dissolved and pour slowly into simmering tomato milk mixture. Simmer until thick like a gravy. Add two tablespoons sugar and 1/8 tsp salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare biscuits and bake until golden brown. Place biscuit on plate open-faced and top with a dab of real butter and cover with Creamed Tomatoes and enjoy the ripeness of summer all day long.

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Although this is not the best food photo, it is a wonderful way to use up excess fresh tomatoes. If by chance you use canned store-bought tomatoes you may not have as many seeds and you can make the tomatoes thinker with the addition of more corn starch and water. This simple dish is a favorite of my husbands and we have it with dinner as a side dish also.

 

Categories: Back yard garden, biscuits, canning, creamed vegetables, Tomatoes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Chili Sauce from the Garden

Sauce with tomato peppers onions and spices 

  The weather in West Virginia this fall and early winter has been a soggy mess.  So to keep the family warm and fed until the cold of  winter freezes up the mud and turns the world to a lovely white. I have been cooking comfort food in the rain. Home made Chili is a easy quick dinner when you make and can the sauce at the peak of tomato season. 

 Chili sauce from the garden is a family favorite. We have been making this sauce for generations and it can be made fresh from the garden or canned and stored for the long winter. We usually use ground venison as the meat adding a mixture of kidney beans to the sauce when ready to serve.

 If you raise tomatoes and sweet bell peppers you can make home made chili sauce with just a little effort. This recipe usually makes 7 to 8 quarts of sauce but you can easily cut the recipe down or double it for a larger family. Each quart of sauce added to one pound of ground meat and two cans of beans makes around 6 to 7 servings of Chili. 

For this recipe you need 25 pounds of ripe tomatoes. I usually have about half that ripe at one time in the garden and end up adding some to mine from the farmers market. You can also buy a half bushel of tomatoes at once and make one turn of sauce. 

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cored tomatoes ready for boiling water bath.

The first step is to wash, core and scald all 25 pounds of tomatoes. I do the best I can coring the tomatoes and leave them whole to scald to remove their skin. The more ripe the tomato the faster and easier it is to remove the skin. I boil about a gallon of water in a large stock pot adding tomatoes until they reach the top of the pot. Boil the tomatoes 3 minutes until skins come lose. Dump hot tomatoes into a cold water bath in a sink and allow to cool. I add a couple of trays of ice to the bath. Refill the cold water bath as it gets warm after adding 5 or 6 pounds of tomatoes at a time.  The skins will pull lose easily leaving a nice pealed tomato for chopping.  

Next dice up tomatoes with a ruff chop and place in large stock pot to begin to cook down. At this point you will have enough juice to cook the tomatoes with out scorching if you use a Med/High heat.

 Next add onion, peppers, garlic, sugar, spices and allowed to cook until everything is soft. Simmering the sauce for about 30 minutes. At this point add tomato paste, 2 cans will help to reduced the amount of water in the sauce. The sauce could be canned at this point if you like a chunky sauce or  I put ours through a food mill to remove any seeds, skins and lumps.

(I make small packets of spices to drop in the simmering sauce to make it easier to remove the large seeds and leaves.)

 After pressing the sauce through a food mill,  heat sauce to boiling and ladle into clean prepared quart jars. I always wash and sterilized at least 9 jars just in case I end up with more then 7 quarts of sauce. Add clean sterilized lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath 20 minutes. No pressure needed with high acid foods like tomato sauce( 20 minutes for quarts and 15 minutes for pints). Each jar will last at least one year after being canned. I rarely make less than 14 quarts at a time.

 

Garden Chili Sauce 

1/2 bushel ripe tomatoes or 25 pounds

1 cup chopped fine hot peppers we use a med hot pepper. 

1 cup chopped sweet peppers

1 cup red onion

2 heads of garlic chopped fine this equals about 10 cloves

1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon black pepper

1  2.0 oz  can ground chili powder, more or less to taste

2 small cans tomato paste

1 tablespoon pickling spices, placed in a cheese cloth,

We use Mrs Woods Mixed Pickling Spices but if you do not have Pickling spice, mustard seed, Bay leaves, whole allspice, cinnamon and coriander seeds can be used.  

When ready to use add one pound cooked ground meat and two cans of kidney beans simmer and serve. 

for more information on canning in a boiling water bath please refer to the Ball Jar Website. 

 

Categories: canning, country cooking, gardening, peppers, Preserving, regional food, Venison | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Appalachian Food, Trend or Tradition?

So after appearing on the TV show State Plate where my family was featured making traditional Appalachian foods and now that CNN’s Anthony Bourdain  has traveled to West Virginia in his show Explore Parts Unknown, I am a little confused if the food of my home is now trendy or traditional? I wonder what it is that we as people are looking for when we have come back and taken the simple county food that my family eats and made it trendy.

I wonder if our nation has had so much world food exposure that we are looking for something that is truly American, something with traditions and stories that reflect our basic American history. Many Americans have never eaten self butchered meats, home-made breads,home canned fruits and veggies from the garden. So to these people my family and the mountain communities that surround me seem novel. Yet, I view myself and my way of living as traditional to Appalachia and not unique in any way. In reality it is not unique to most  Americans either, just forgotten for a few generations.

Christopher and Cody picking Pumpkins with Paige on the way to pick them up

Christopher and Cody picking pumpkins and Paige on the way with the wagon

Food is just one aspect of a life here that is lived believing you will only be able to count on your family and yourself in an uncertain future. Families still raise gardens to provide valuable nutrition, they hunt, fish and forage as a normal part of the seasons. They can and dry foods for the winter and share the bounty with those they know and love. It is simple and direct to make food from what is growing near by. It saves money and is better for you because it is less likely to have chemicals and pesticides.  It only seems odd or novel to outsiders who would never think of eating wild rabbits or making your own wine from plants that grow like weeds. It also takes skills that many have forgotten over the generations. They say time stands still in the hills, so in this way we are fortunate to have kept the skills alive.

To my surprise, I was recently invited to be part of a historical “Foodways” museum exhibit at the Beverly Heritage Center  in Beverly, West Virginia. I shared some of my families recipes and our way of preparing several items that have been in the family for generations. I even shared some of the cooking tools we use for the display, some being over 60 years old.

BHC cooking display board

As part of the display the Museum created this panel about my family’s food history. It will be on display for the summer placed on a dinner table with 5 other panels. Each one sharing a Appalachian food story and a couple of recipes. Then during opening day Jenny the curator of the project will serve several of the foods that the families have shared with her during the collection process. I hope to make the apple sauce cake for her and the visitors and share some more of my families stories. The exhibit opens June 9th in the lobby of the Beverly Heritage Center in Beverly, West Virginia. 

After my interview with Jenny, I began to reflect on the resent fascination with our rural foods. Our interview reminded me of why country families and mountain communities have such attachments to their food. Food is the link to each other and the communities that they value. As Jenny and I chatted, I found myself saying that it is often times food that brings us all together. It is church dinners and family holidays, birthdays and funerals, fairs and festivals, that whole communities will gather together to share in someones pain or celebration. Our foods are about nourishment, not only of the body but of the soul. We have family time, say Grace, and keep in touch with friends, families all with food. It is these connections with food that is different in the world today. Today’s families rarely sit down at the table to eat a meal together. Holiday meals are not home-made anymore. Never allowing everyone to get involved in the preparations.  Here in Appalachia often we know who butchered the meat, made the beer and wine that we toast with, know the woman who made the jams, jellies and the children who made the cookies sitting on the table our Thanksgiving table.

Today people have no idea what the ingredients are in their food or even how they  are grown or raised. Kids eat in the car and we get milk in plastic bottles. We have lost touch with the joy of our food.

Appalachian food is about being authentic and natural, full of stories and traditions. Sometimes it is fancy and other times it is simple and filling, but it is often more about who you share a meal with then the food on the plate that is important.

Categories: About me, canning, cooking, country cooking, Country life, Dandelions, family traditions, Foraging, Hand Pies, history, hobbies, Holidays, Jam, State Plate TV show, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam

Making homemade jellies and jams is one of my favorite thing to do when fresh fruit comes into season. Strawberries wild and cultivated are in season here and I just could not resist a large sale that featured strawberries at a local market. Strawberry Jam is one of the easiest jams to make and is almost fool-proof.

Homemade strawberry jam

Homemade strawberry jam

I would love to have a strawberry bed in the near future but for now I have bought mine. So in about 1 hour 30 minutes, I made enough jam to feed my family for the rest of the year. The total cost for making Strawberry Jam was about 8$ compared to 17$ dollars if you pay 3 dollars a jar for store-bought Jam.I am hoping that next time I can drop the cost to 3$ dollars when I can raise my own berries.

Ingredients :

Following the Ball Blue Book canning guide you will need 2 quarts or 8 cups crushed clean fresh strawberries. I bought 5 pounds of strawberries and used about 3 pounds to get 8 cups of crushed strawberries. 7 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 6 Tablespoons Ball Classic Pectin. This is one whole jar of powdered pectin. 1 to 2 tablespoons butter if needed to reduce foaming.

Supplies:

You will need 8 half pint jars ( we call them jelly jars) with lids and rings I always get two extra ready also. A boiling water canner with enough boiling water to cover the tops of you jars with 1 to 2 inches of water.You will need a potato masher to make the crushed fruit, a jar lifter, funnel and a ladle. One large dutch oven or stock pot for cooking the jam in. I like to wear rubber gloves to protect my hands from the boiling hot jam but you can skip it if you are careful.

After washing jars lids and rings, sterilize the jars either in the microwave or in the boiling water of the canner. I boil my lids and rings separately in a small sauce pan that I keep very hot until ready to us. Remove from sterile jars from canner or microwave and place on a towel to cool and dry.

ready to crush 2 cups of strawberries at a time in dutch oven

ready to crush 2 cups of strawberries at a time in dutch oven

In large stock pot add the 2 quarts of smashed berries, lemon juice and classic pectin mix together well. Bring to a boil, stirring to keep from scorching. Add sugar to pot and stir until sugar dissolved. Return to a rolling boil, one that will not stop when stirred.  Boil one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat add one teaspoon of butter if jam is foamy on top. Mix in well and skim top of Jam to remove foamy skin. Ladle hot jam into clean jars leaving about 1/4 of inch of headspace.Be careful to not to burn yourself on hot syrup. Clean top rim of jar to remove any leftover fruit or juice adding lid and adjust ring. Process 10 minutes in boiling water canner. Remove from hot water and let completely cool check rings and tighten if needed and store for up to one year.

8 cups mashed strawberries, lemon juice, pectin ready to boil

8 cups mashed strawberries, lemon juice, pectin and sugar ready to return to a boil

jars loaded into canner to process 10 minutes.. no pressure needed

Jars loaded into canner to process 10 minutes. No pressure needed.

In the end I finished the morning with 9 half pint jars of jam and still had a few strawberries left over for strawberry rhubarb jam also. I grow rhubarb so I made a small batch of Jam with the leftover berries and three stalks of rhubarb.They all tasted great and will keep us thinking of summer all winter long.

Ball Classic Pectin

Ball Classic Pectin

 

Categories: canning, country cooking, strawberries | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Poblano Peppers and Home Canned Chili Verde.

Last year after our move, I was finally able to get a small garden in the back yard. The year was rainy and not everything that I planted grew well but the peppers seemed to like the wet, hot weather. I had wanted to add chili peppers to our garden for a couple of years but worried that the amount of rain in West Virginia gets would hinder their growth.Usually people think of the high arid deserts when you hear about chilies and hot peppers. Well let me say that my Ancho/Poblano chilies did very well last summer and by the end of Sept. I was over run with chilies. Here is a photo of the largest pepper plant I have ever raised it stood 4 1/2 feet tall and at one time had 22 chilies growing on it branches at one time. Eventually, Tom and I had to stake the pepper due to the fact that they were so heavy with fruit we were afraid that the stocks would break. In this photo you can see our plant touches the top of a 4 foot fence and we had not staked this plant yet.

Pablano/Ancho pepper plants in the Buckhannon, WV garden 2015

Poblano/Ancho pepper plants in the Buckhannon, WV garden 2015.

So what do you do with all these Chilies…. you make Chili Verde Sauce. Chili Verde is a stew like dish that comes from Northern Mexico. Green Chili is traditionally made with pork, hot to mild Chili peppers and Tomatillos . It can be eaten as dip, stew, or condiment like its brother Salsa. Our family loves it over burritos and over eggs in a dish called Huevos Rancheros. I also make a slow cooker pork roast with a Chili Verde dressing.

This winter when I broke open a jar of the Chili Verde, I remembered that wanted to share how to pressure can Chili Verde with all of you, using home-grown peppers from your garden. The process requires a pressure canner due to the use of pork in the ingredients.

Poblano peppers are a medium heat  chili pepper and these are still at the green stage.When fully ripened and red it is an Ancho pepper and is often dried and used as a crushed hot pepper. I used 12 to 15 peppers for this recipe.

2 1/2 pounds Pork butt or shoulder cut into small cubes

1 large onion

13 small Pablano peppers or 6 large peppers, roasted, seeded, skinned and chopped = 2 cups

2 Jalapeno peppers chopped whole for heat, remove seeds for mild

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic =to about 3 cloves of garlic

1 pound Tomatillos, roasted,skinned and chopped or 16 oz jar Tomatillo salsa

1/4 cup wine vinegar

3 cups chicken stock

1 can diced tomatoes

2 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoons cumin, oregano, dry cilantro… if using fresh Tomatillos double these.

makes about 8 pints, cook time 75 minutes for pints and 90 for quarts,prep time 15 mintues.

Sink full of pablano chili peppers read to roast.

Sink full of poblano chili peppers read to roast.

The first step in cooking with any chili pepper is to roast them. I roasted trays of peppers in the oven this summer. The main requirement is to char the skin of the pepper on all sides and then place them in a container to sweat, making the skin easy to remove. Some people use paper bags some use a bowel with plastic wrap, I use a bowel with a tight lid and cook my peppers at a temperature around 400 degrees. Watching carefully to make sure I am not setting the broiled peppers on fire. It takes about 10 minutes to roast 12 to 15 peppers on a cookie sheet at one time.

Peppers chard and bowl with a lid to sweat after being removed from my oven.

Peppers charred and bowl with a lid to sweat after being removed from my oven.

I then remove the stems, most of the seeds and skins from the peppers. Letting them cool as I prepare the canning portion of this project.

1. I prepare 8 pint jars, lids, and rings for this batch of Verde sauce. Washing and sanitizing the jars and keeping the rings and lids in hot water until ready to used.

2 1/2 pound pork shoulder or roast.

2 1/2 pound pork shoulder or roast.

2. I dice the pork meat into bite size pieces making sure they will pass through the neck of a canning jar. I add  the meat to a 8 quart stock pot with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and cook over med heat. The meat does not have to be done all the way through, the rest of the cooking will  finish while in the canner, but this does remove excess fat from the pork. Add salt and pepper and stir before setting aside. Drain away all fat but one tablespoon.

3. To the Tablespoon fat add chopped chilies, Jalapeno peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute this mixture for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, tomatillos, vinegar and spices.  Simmer on med heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

chili verde simmering on stove

Chili Verde simmering on stove.

What I used instead of fresh Tomatillos

What I used instead of fresh Tomatillos.

Where I live in rural West Virginia it is hard to find fresh tomatillos and if you do find them they look like this. I did not want to drive 30 minutes to see if I could find them so I used this canned salsa to add the mild richness that they provide in a dish.

Cut tomatillos

Cut tomatillos

They would need  roasted and chopped before being added to the stock pot.

4. After simmering for 15 to 20 minutes it is time to blend the sauce. I do not own a hand held blender so poured  mine into a blender a little at a time. I think this batch filled my blender three times. Blend for several minutes until smooth.

Blender full of green Chili

Blender full of green Chili

return to the stock pot and heat to boiling. The sauce must be hot when added to the jars so that the jars do not break when added to a pressure canner full of hot water.

5. Place browned pork into clean pint jars, filling at least half way to the top. We like more sauce so I use only fill mine 1/2.

6. Next ladle hot sauce over meat using a canning funnel and leaving a one inch head space. Use a rubber spatula to remove any air bubbles between meat. Wipe rim of jar and top with warm lid and rings. Process at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

cleaning rim of jars before canning

Cleaning rim of jars before Canning.

Home made Chili Verde 2015

Home made Chili Verde 2015

This recipe can be made without the added pork if you do not want to add meat to the sauce. I never found any information on how long to process a meat free version so I would continue to process it for the recommended time.

So this weekend my husband and I were able to eat a wonderful breakfast with this sauce. I made two large plates of Huevos Rancheros with Chili Verde. I made them with a warm tortilla on the bottom, topped with refried beans, two fried eggs, chili verde, and shredded cheese. A spicy way to start the day and a great way for my family to eat up all of those hot peppers!

Huevos Rancheros for breakfast on a cold morning.

Huevos Rancheros for breakfast on a cold morning.

Categories: canning, gardening, pepper /chilies, peppers, Pork, seeds | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

I am Thankful for Pumpkin Pie!

I know, I am late…. Thanksgiving day is usually a very quite and reflective time for me. The boys hunt and I cook and everyone gets together for dinner around 5:30 and we spend the rest of the evening watching the little ones play and  talk shop. So I usually have the day to myself, and Tom the turkey, but some how this year it just did not happen. One reason was the new bread maker that I received as a birthday present earlier this month.  I will be posting what I made yesterday once I have mastered ” dinner rolls”  they tasted great but looked a little funny.

So, like most people I just ran out of time to share that I am thankful for Pumpkin Pie. 

Yes, I know it sounds a little childish but pumpkin pie is really what I was thankful for this year and I will tell you why.

It all started with a my husband Tom… He really is my hero in life and on my Barnwood Builder episode. He helped me till a small garden at the other house that we were living in last summer. In that garden Tom and Christopher help me plant 3 pumpkin seeds. From those seeds grew 13 pumpkins, I think, if I can remember correctly.

Wagon full of sliver moon pumpkins 2014

Wagon full of sliver moon pumpkins 2014

Christopher and Cody picking pumpkins and Paige on the way with the wagon

Christopher and Cody picking pumpkins and Paige on the way with the wagon

Then after a long summer I was so thankful that Cody my older son and my granddaughter Paige and daughter-in-law Jamie were able to come help us harvest everything in the garden including the pumpkins. It took hours to bring in everything that grow well that year. We had sweet potatoes to dig, pumpkins to pull and tomatoes and peppers every where. The baskets were full,the wagon was full and I had a lot of work getting these pumpkins ready to eat.

Home grown white pumpkin carved for Halloween 2014

Home grown white pumpkin carved for Halloween 2014

I aged the pumpkins in the cool of our porch until Halloween came. I had my foot surgery just days before Halloween and I was off my feet when the holiday rolled in.  Again Tom help me out with the most important Halloween tradition of  carving at least one of our pumpkins.  Christopher and Tom spent one evening craving a couple of pumpkins and decorating the porch with them. I was so Thankful to see them and see the smiling face on my little Christopher’s face when he lighted them up.

bowel of pumpkin pie filling made in 2014

bowel of pumpkin pie filling made in 2014

From the rest of the pumpkins I made pie filling. So in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I cooked and canned most of those pumpkins. The house smelled wonderful for days as I roasted on the first day and pureed the next. Finally I cooked and added spices to the mixture and put it in the jars with love. Thankful that Christopher had a school to go to and Tom had a job to work at, as the huge mess in my kitchen grew. 2 days and 6 hours later the jars sealed and I have jars of home-made pumpkin pie filling.

New House in Buckhannon, WV

New House in Buckhannon, WV

Then after moving our family over the long cold winter,we  stared working on the house.  I am so thankful for our new home. This was my first Thanksgiving in my new to me kitchen and the first time I drug out the good dishes and glasses in years. It was a wonderful reason to take out a jar of that pumpkin pie filling and make a pie to celebrate.

home made pies pumpkin and mock mincemeat

home-made pies pumpkin and mock mincemeat

Finally, I am thankful for every person who sat at my table, for every opportunity I have to spend time with them. I am thankful for those who are missing this year and the ones that are in heaven. I am thankful for the money to buy the meal we ate and most of all I am thankful for pumpkins and pies.

4 generations of the Powers family together for Tom birthday 2014

4 generations of the Powers family together for Tom birthday 2014.

Categories: Buckhannon West Virginia, canning, Christopher, Cody, Country life, foot surgery, gardening, Paige, pumkin puree', pumpkin, pumpkins, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grandpa’s Home Canned Venison Chili Sauce, made from the garden.

When trying to live closer to the land many families turn to hunting, fishing and home gardens. In our families case we do all three, letting nothing that comes our way go to wast. Canning venison chili Sauce is a great way to use up extra produce in the garden and take a little of last years deer burger and make it into an on the go meal for those cold winter months still to come. This Labor Day weekend my family made about 13 quarts of this chili starter in about 6 hours. Each quart of sauce when added to one large can of kidney beans will make 5 to 6 servings of home-made goodness.

We started with only one problem, my tomato plants blighted this year. I have only one remaining tomato plant and we had to buy the two quarts of juice this recipe calls for. In better years I have made tomato juice and added some Tabasco sauce for the bite we love in our chili. So instead this year we bought two bottles of V-8 ( one hot and one regular) to fill the needed juice in this recipe.

I used the current Ball “Blue Book, Guide to Preserving” as our guide for processing times and head space for  making our meat sauce base. Any ground meat including venison should be processed for 1 hour and 15 minutes with chili needing a 1 inch head space. We then used grandpa’s recipe for the broth portion of the chili and added the recommended 5 pounds of ground venison. This resulted in 6 quarts of what my family knows as  Grandpa’s venison chili and it is a family favorite.

My kitchen smelled soooo good for most of the day because of the  fresh ingredients from my garden like hot peppers and garlic.

Cody,Jamie and I cooking and canning

Cody,Jamie and I cooking and canning

So for Grandpa’s Venison Chili

1 large yellow onion

2 teaspoons chopped or pressed garlic

1 cup sweet pepper diced

1/2 cup hot peppers ( we used banana peppers).Up this amount to 1 cup if you use plain tomato juice

3  cups tomato paste or 4 small cans.

2 quarts of tomato juice, or in this case 2 quarts v-8 juice one hot and one plain

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

black pepper to taste

5 pounds ground venison

2 table spoons vegetable oil

this makes 6 to 6 1/2 quarts of canned chili.

Some of the many peppers I have growing in the garden

Some of the many peppers I have growing in the garden

In a large 8 quart stock pot add oil, onions and garlic. Saute’ until onions are beginning to soften and add ground venison. Brown all 5 pounds over mid heat with onion and garlic. Once the meat is cook add juice and all remaining ingredients. Simmer for about ten minutes string often to prevent sticking and making sure all the ingredients mix thoroughly.  Bring chili to a boil and ladle into clean, sterile, quart mason jars leaving 1 inch of head space. After cleaning any spills off top lip of jar, top with clean sterile lids and rings that are just tightened. Place in pressure canner with simmering water ( amounts vary)  and add lid and begin to process after ten minutes of steam has escaped the canner. Process jars for 1 hour 15 minutes at ten pounds pressure. Remove hot jars from canner and set in a clean dry place to cool and you should hear the ping of the lids as they seal. Eat any chili in unsealed jars with in a few days and store inside the refrigerator. The remaining jars that have sealed should be used within a year of processing and stored in a place that stays above freezing.

Home canned Venison chili with canner

Home Canned Venison Chili with Canner

Now all I need is a crisp cool day to enjoy this home-made chili. Happy Canning!

 

Categories: canning, country cooking, deer hunting, gardening, Hunting, Tomatoes, Venison, venison | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog anniversary… Who knew this would lead to T.V.

I have written my way through 2 years so far. For a person with a frustrating learning disability like Dyslexia this is HUGE! I have taken on my weakness and confronted it, pushed through it and in some way over come it. Well maybe just worked around it, but because all of you are here it means that some thing in the last two years is working.

anniversary 2x

anniversary 2x

I took on writing a blog for a couple of reasons. The first was I  needed a creative outlet that I could do while at home with a 5-year-old and with a mother in law who was very ill. I also needed all of you, I needed to think about things other than the pile of toys on the floor and the trips to the cancer Dr’s office. My home was not a place to make crafts or paint large paintings at the time. So I wrote about who I love,what I love to do and some how you all found some thing here that spoke to you. Maybe it was the stories about cooking wild game and maybe it was that we love to garden and do canning, maybe the battle I fought to make sure my mother in law stayed well through her cancer treatments made you stay. Who really knows why you all have been here for this bumpy ride, but it is wonderful and has been one of the best hobbies that I have ever attempted.

I have recently been contacted by the DIY Network about my blog, yea shocked me too! They have a show called  “Barnwood Builders”  filmed in West Virginia and they are filming a barn in my local area. They found my little ( less than a thousand followers) blog and want Mountain Mama and the family in an episode of their show. So I am in total shock and over joyed that some where out in cyber space I have left an impression about who and what I am. At the current time it looks like we will be working together on the home we just purchased with some reclaimed barn wood. They also wanted to see my husband working with some of the horses he is responsible for as a farrier. They loved that we lived in a style that is already present in the show. We share a love for West Virginia history, working with our hands, seeing the beauty of our state and trying to live more simply.

I will write more later about the filming and when the episode should air… sometime next year for season two. But for now I have a few more topics to write about before the crew arrive here March 11th and we get to get dusty and dirty making my 60′ ranch feel more like the home of a county family. So hang in their if you love old barns, wood working, home improvement and decor because this spring should make for some great stories.

 

 

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson's Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Mary Conrad Cabin Jackson’s Mill, Jane Lew West Virginia 2013

Categories: blacksmith work, blogging, cancer treatment, canning, country cooking, dyslexia, Farrier work., furniture, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, recycling, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Pickled Eggs with Garden Beets a Colorful way to Serve farm Eggs.

As with almost all pickles, pickled eggs were a safe and easy way to store food without refrigeration. Using simple ingredients like water, sugar and cider vinegar people could save their extra eggs from the summer and eat them when the long winter depleted families stores of meat and poultry. I have read that it was the Amish that added their wonderful pickled beets to the eggs to add color and a spicy twist. The tradition is very popular in West Virginia  where the eggs are found everywhere from the grocery store to road side restaurants. We are so luck to have  many of the Amish traditions passed down from their communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

half of pickled egg

half of pickled egg

My family takes the beets from our garden and pickles them in a spicy brine of cider vinegar, sugar, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. We then add the pickled beets to boiled eggs. Adding in a fresh dose of water, sugar and cider vinegar  for a holiday treat. I make these lovely hot pink  eggs at Christmas and Easter every year. Starting about 5 days before the holiday so that the eggs are pink to the edge of the yolk. Letting the eggs soak any longer the brine will toughen the yolk and make it rubbery.

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I take 10 boiled eggs to one quart of pickled beets, either home-made or store-bought, adding them to a gallon non reactive container with a lid. To this mixture I add 1 cup water, 1 cup cider vinegar and 3/4 cup sugar to a sauce pan on the stove and simmer until sugar dissolves. I pour that hot mixture over eggs and beets, mix well, seal with a lid and store 4 to 5 days to get the pink up to the edge of the egg white. The longer the eggs soak the stronger the taste.

Pickled eggs floating in beet brine. in a non reactive container

Pickled eggs floating in beet brine. in a non reactive container

We serve the eggs along with the pickled beets that are in the bottom of the container. The sweet beets are a treat that I can not pass up and the kids love to take a bite into an egg that is not totally pink all the way through and has a bright white stripe inside.

There are many other ways to make pickled eggs some are hot and spicy with hot peppers added, some call for onions and some that are just a cider brine with white eggs. But in our house nothing reminds me of spring as much at hot pink eggs at our Easter table.

Categories: apple cider vinger, beets, beets, canning, Easter, eggs, Preserving | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

5 Reasons to Plant Silver Moon White Pumpkins in the Garden Next Year.

carved white pumpkins for Halloween

carved white pumpkins for Halloween

This year is the first time I have had any success growing pumpkins and just for the fun of it we chose to plant white ones just to add some fun to our Halloween display. It was a bumper crop and here are my five top reasons I will plant these pumpkins again next year. They met and surpassed all of my exceptions for home-grown pumpkins.

First they were very prolific. I planted only one hill of the Silver Moon Hybrid pumpkins, with only three seeds. I purchased the seeds from a Henry Field’s catalog 4 years ago. Sadly these seeds had been in storage for all those years. From those(to old to use) seeds I ended up with two healthy plants and ended up with 12 pumpkins.We were shocked and over joyed that most of the pumpkins were actually carving size ( 5 to 10 pounds) and I ended up with only two that were so small I could not even make them into pie filling.

white pumpkin on vine in garden

white pumpkin on vine in garden

The second and main reason I planted the pumpkins was how beautiful they are when carved. They range in color from snow-white to a pale green with white stripes. So for carving we chose to use the brightest white ones. As you can see from the above photo the pumpkins are white on the outside but have bright orange pulp with a wonderful green rind and when lit they are just so wonderful to look at indoors and out.

inside view of a Silver Moon Hybrid pumpkin

inside view of a Silver Moon Hybrid pumpkin

The next best reason to plant these pumpkins is, no matter their size, have very thick pulp. Making these very easy to turn into puree’ and pie filling. I only got to process 4 pumpkins before my foot that is still recovering from surgery said that I was standing to long. So With just 4 pumpkins I was able to get 10 quarts of pie filling that I will be using next week for Thanksgiving dinner.

10 jars of home made pumpkin pie filling

10 jars of home-made pumpkin pie filling

The fourth reason I like these pumpkins over the average orange ones is for storage value. They are a short squat pumpkin much more akin to a squash shape. So when storming them I could actually stack the pumpkins on top of each other on a shelf. That is never going to happen with a large round orange pumpkin.They also have less of an air space inside making them less prone to rot.

wagon full of white sliver moon pumpkins

wagon full of white sliver moon pumpkins

 

Then finally they have seeds, not for planting (being hybrids) but for eating. These pumpkins have a wonderful snow-white seed that are large for a 5 -6 pound pumpkin. They are thickly packed into the small cavity in the thick pulp. I was so surprised that we roasted several batches with salt and cinnamon sugar for a nice snack.

seeds hiding in the thick pulp of a small white pumkin

seeds hiding in the thick pulp of a small white pumpkin

It has been so much fun trying out new seeds in the garden and letting my sons enjoy every part of the activity. I can’t wait to serve a home-grown chemical free pumpkin pie to my family and friends this year at Thanks Giving. This is one seed that I will plant again and again, just to see the joy on Christopher’s face when Tom helps him carve his very own pumpkin.

Tom and Christopher with a home grown Jack-o-Lantern

Tom and Christopher with a home-grown Jack-o-Lantern

Categories: canning, food storage, Jack-O-Lanters, organic food, Pie, pumkin puree', pumpkin, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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