Posts Tagged With: Canning

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. 

IMG_20180825_092840864

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

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: , , , , , , | 10 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

Venison, Wild Mushroom, Lasagna

Deer season started today, so to honor my husband and all the wild game he provides for my family, I made this wonderful venison  meal.

I love to cook with wild foods and two of my favorites are Venison and Wild mushrooms. I had a few pounds of ground venison in the freezer from last year and about a pound of frozen wild mushroom from summer.The mushroom I am using is a  Chicken Mushrooms ( Laetiporus- Cincinnatus) the orange verity. I also had home-made Marinara sauce out of the garden. All that I needed from the store was cheese and noodles.

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

ingredients for Venison Lasagna

This was the foraged mushroom that I had a portion of frozen.

white spore, Chiken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

white spore, Chicken Mushroom, Laetiporus- Cincinnatus

The stems of the mushroom can be woody, I saute’ them  chopped in butter with a little onion and garlic before I brown my meat. It can take several minutes to make the mushroom stems soft. I like to use bigger pieces so they do not lose their texture in the cheese mixture. I cook the mushroom mixture a little longer then what it takes to soften the onions. Set it aside to wait assembly of the lasagna.

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

Chopped Chicken Mushroom with onion and Garlic Sauteing

I then brown about a pound of ground venison with a little oil to keep it from sticking to the pan.

Browning ground Venison

Browning ground Venison

Because Venison is so low in fat the moister you see in the photo is not oil but moister from the meat. It will cook off and I add Salt and little pepper and one quart home-made Marinara Sauce or your favorite sauce. Adding 1/2 cup water to store-bought sauce or 1 cup to my thick sauce to add the additional moister for Oven Ready Noodles. If you use regular cooked noodles you would skip the water.

Then mix together in a large bowl the Cheese mixture of your choice. I like ricotta cheese in my lasagna for two reasons. First it has a lower moister content and will not get really runny with the Oven Ready Noodles. Secondly the flavor to me is better when mixed with Italian seasonings.

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Three cheeses ricotta,mozzarella Parmesan, eggs and spices

Then add sauce to venison and place about 1/2 cup in bottom of 13 X 11 pan cover with uncooked noodles.

Venison marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Venison Marinara sauce with oven ready noodles

Cover noodles with cheese mixture and top with sauteed mushroom and onion mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

Wild mushroom and onion mixture topping ricotta cheese mixture

I then top this with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and cover the top with more venison sauce topping that with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Back in the oven lightly covered at 350 degrees for 60 minutes and let stand at least 15 minutes after removing from the oven. This allows the cheese to set up while cooling and keeps the lasagna firmer when cut and not too hot to eat.

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

venison, wild mushroom lasagna

Ingredients

1 pound wild mushrooms

1 med onion

1 teaspoon or two cloves garlic

2 teaspoons butter

1 pound ground venison

1 quart or more Marinara sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

1 pound ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup fresh shredder Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 1/2 table spoons Italian seasonings

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon parsley

1 box Oven Ready Noodles… the non-boil kind

Directions

  1. Saute chopped mushrooms, onions and garlic in butter a minute or two more than when the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Brown 1 pound of venison in large skillet, add salt and pepper and 1 quart of Marinara Sauce. Simmer until warm and bubbly.
  3. In a 13 X 11 backing pan spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup meat sauce in bottom of pan, making sure to cover entire bottom of pan adding more if needed.
  4. Cover sauce with one layer of Oven Ready Noodles.
  5. In large bowel add all but a handful of cheeses. Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and two eggs. Mix until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  6. Add Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic salt to cheeses and mix.
  7. Scoop cheese mixture over Oven Ready Noodles and smooth out.
  8. Cover cheese with mushroom and onion mixture, spread evenly cover with 1/2 cup sauce below noodles.
  9. Cover with another row of Oven Ready Noodles and top with sauce, topping with left over cheese.

10.Cover loosely with tin foil  and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

So with high hopes I can fill my freezer again this year with fresh organic meat..best of lucky Tom, Cody and Bill may you hunting season be filled with the joy of nature and thrill of the hunt and the knowledge that you have provided another year of food for your families.

Categories: cooking, deer hunting, Foraging, Hunting, lasagna, mushroom hunting, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Venison, venison Lasagna, venison Lasagna, West Virginia, wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sweet Potato Garden FAIL that Tastes so Good!

So it did finally frost about a week ago and we did finally get a chance before my two-week recovery to get out and dig my beautiful, bountiful, overflowing sweet potatoes. This was the first time either my husband or I  attempted to grow them in our family garden. The slips were a gift from a friend and we started off with about 10 plants and hoped to get 2 to 3 roots per plant. Well as things always go in a garden this one was about the funniest fails I have ever had.

Sweet Potato slips ready to plant

Sweet Potato slips ready to plant

The plants started off well and we did nothing to stop their spread or growth. Eventually they over ran the row they were growing in and just took over. My pumpkin hills became a sea of sweet potato vines and we lost pumpkins and cucumbers to the tangle of root shoots. Cody my oldest son played hide and seek with pumpkins and cucumbers in between their glossy leaves.

Cody picking Pumpkins in the sweet potato patch

Cody picking Pumpkins in the sweet potato patch

So the excitement was so high when my husband said it was time to trim the plants down and dig, dig, dig. It took us a couple of hours to dig the patch of 10 plants. Slowly and careful to not damage to roots we found that almost the enter garden damaged by VOLES. Check out this link for images and information on the difference between Moles and Voles.

I wanted to laugh and cry all at once, the largest and most beautiful potatoes were the most damaged.The beautiful pink skin left with huge holes and pits. We carried two five gallon buckets up on the porch and I  just walked away…… for several days! It was so discouraging I almost tossed all of them out.

Mole damaged sweet potatoes 2014

Mole damaged sweet potatoes 2014

As I walked past the buckets twice a day for a week my heart just did not have strength to dump the darn things out. “What should I do with them” was my thought every time I looked down at the muddy pink flesh. Finally on a spur of the moment idea I just started cleaning, sorting and tossing out my harvest. Finally it came to me… “What would your grandma do? She would use them any way.” The roots were mostly corked over where the damage had happened, so no rot was found. I was left with 8 to 10 pounds of sweet potatoes that needed saved in some way. So I cleaned, paired and salvaged what I could from the buckets.

trimmed,washed and sorted sweet potatoes ready to parboil

trimmed,washed and sorted sweet potatoes ready to parboil

I boiled the potatoes for twenty minutes, drained them and cooled them for several hours. Still sad, I removed the skins by hand under warm running water. Finally, they started to look like the yams that we normally see brightly colored, clean and blemish free. I cut them into large chunks and measured their amount. Discovering that I really did not have enough to make a full canner full of candied sweet potatoes I froze the remaining pieces.

4 Cups frozen Sweet potato chunks

4 Cups frozen Sweet potato chunks

Then as I reached the end of my pile of chucks I finally realized that I had plenty of time to make a Sweet Potato Pie ( canning sweet potatoes is at least a 90 minute process that I did not want to do). So just on chance I took the remaining pile of potatoes and cooked them for another 20 minutes until fork tender and braved the internet for a pie recipe. So to make this story shorter I made 2 wonderful sweet potato pies that I shared with my friends and family.

Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Pie.

Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Pie.

At the end of the day I felt satisfied, I had learned a lot about Voles/Moles, Sweet Potatoes and Pie. This gardening FAIL ended up tasting great!  Lucky for me every one seemed to like a pie made from what retail stores call trash. I think my Grandmother who raised 6 living kids and farmed for a living would have been proud that I didn’t give up on those chewed up roots.

Categories: cakes and family deserts, canning, gardening, mole/ vole damage, Pie, Preserving, regional food, Sweet Potato | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Time Saving Home Canned Chili Sauce with Beef or Venison

I am sure all of us have had times when you get home from a long day and really don’t want to cook. I have many days that I just don’t plan ahead enough and it is 5 and I still have no idea what we are going to eat and everyone is hungry. This is my back up plan, it is a home-made tomato sauce that we use as a chili base and saves me from making the chili base from scratch every time. No looking to see if I have all the ingredients. No reason to worry over long cooking times.So when cool weather sets in and chili sounds like the perfect meal to put together in a slow cooker or a quick last-minute dinner this is the way our family makes chili. I also love that it uses a large amount of our garden tomatoes every year.

6 quarts of finished chili sauce

6 quarts of finished chili sauce

The idea to can a chili base came from my father in law and his disliked of making a pasta sauce that needed hours to cook down. This idea is so much faster and easier than making large amounts of pasta sauce. It also tastes great and a 1/2 bushel of tomatoes ( about 25 pounds or about 80 to 90 plum tomatoes ) makes about 6 quarts from one patch of sauce. I usually make 18 quarts every year. The other thing that is wonderful about this is it is a non-pressure recipe, it is made in a boiling water bath canner. As long as you stay with the ratio of 25 pounds tomatoes to one cup of onion and 2 1/2 cups peppers you will not  lower the acid levels of the tomatoes. In our sauce we use a mixture of hot and sweet peppers and you can adjust the heat to your families liking. In our case we use 2 cups sweet peppers to 1/2 cup hot peppers or around 4 banana or other large hot peppers. This mixture adds flavor but not much heat.If you like it hot reduce the sweet peppers to 1 cup and raise the hot peppers to 1 1/2 cups and feel the burn, do what ever sounds good to you.

The hardest part of canning any kind of tomato is the necessary step of blanching the tomatoes. This is the process of removing the skins so that you do not have chucks of skin floating around in the sauce. I have tried to grind the tomatoes and leave the skins on and it is just better to remove them if you do not like the taste or though texture of skins floating on the top of you chili.

To blanch Tomatoes I use a 8 quart stock pot of simmering hot water and a sink full of cold water. The colder the better, adding ice if you have a good ice maker is great. Into about 5 quarts of simmering water I place about 20 plum or any tomatoes and simmer for about 3 minuets then plunge them into the ice-cold water with a strainer.

simmering tomatoes for blanching

simmering tomatoes for blanching

The trick is to make sure before you remove the tomatoes from the water that you see the skin of one or all the tomatoes either tear away or start to wrinkle before the plunge. If you get that step right the skins almost fall off in the ice water and pealing is a snap. I core the tomatoes before blanching it makes the skins slide off faster as the water is able to get under the skin of the tomato. I have friends that do it after blanching because they do not want any extra water entering the tomato before cooking…( this is a very important to pasta sauce makers not so much for me). After pealing the tomatoes I have another stock pot ready to place the tomatoes into and blanch more as I place peeled tomatoes into a larger pot.

This photo shows what you start cooking with.

 

25 pounds of pealed tomatoes

25 pounds of peeled tomatoes

You will next cook the tomatoes and juice down and run through a food mill before adding any spices or other vegetables.

Here is the recipe for  cooking the chili sauce in our families traditional way.

Chili Sauce

1/2 bushel fresh tomatoes

2 cups sweet peppers

1/2 cup hot peppers ( we use yellow Banana peppers)

1 cup onion

2 teaspoons chopped garlic or about 5 cloves mashed

1/2 cup sugar

4 Table spoons chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

2 small cans tomato paste

2 table spoons mustard seed

1 bay leaf crumbled

5 whole clove heads all bundled together in a cheese cloth sack or in a tea strainer

this mixture usually makes 6 quarts of fresh sauce

Cook freshly peeled tomatoes for about 15 minutes to break them down into a watery broth. When most of the meat of the tomato has cooked down but you still have a few stringy portions and lots of seeds floating on top run hot tomatoes through a food mill, ricer or sieve to remove seeds and any tough tissues. Place back over med heat and add peppers, onions, garlic chili powder, salt and pepper. Add the spice bag or tea ball and simmer 15 more minutes. At the end of the cooking time remove tea ball and  add two cans tomato paste and stir until well blended. Ladle into hot sterilized jars leaving a 1/2 inch head space, wiping lip and covering with sterilized lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath 20 minutes..

 

fresh tomatoes being pressed through a foodmill

fresh tomatoes being pressed through a Foodmill

Chop hot peppers with some kind of gloves they will burn skin and eyes is not careful

Chop hot peppers with some kind of gloves they will burn skin and eyes if not careful

hot peppers, sweet peppers, onions

hot peppers, sweet peppers, onions

 

 

final stage of chili sauce simmering away

final stage of chili sauce simmering away

When ready to make chili all that you need is one pound of ground meat. We use venison or beef or both mixed together browned and two cans or about 4 cups beans. We like to mix up our beans so I have used light kidney, dark kidney, pinto, cranberry beans, use what you have on hand. Brown the meat drain off any excess fat, pour in one quart jar of chili sauce and add 4 cups of your favorite beans and simmer a few minutes and you have dinner in about 10 minutes. The best part of all is this if all goes well in our garden the only thing that we did not grow ourselves is the tomato paste. Farm fresh goodness all winter long and a quick family meal that should make about 4 servings.

Categories: canning, Chili, country cooking, Tomatoes, venison | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beets,Tomatoes, Pumpkins, and Pie…oh my!

The garden is full these days and I have been working on getting every thing into jar and freezer bags as quickly as I can. The beets made several good meals and about 8 pints of pickled beets for winter. The tomatoes are made into pasta sauce and chili sauce  7 quarts of each so far. Then another 7 quarts of chili sauce will be on the stove in a couple of days as the bulk of my tomatoes are ready for canning. But the real fun of this years garden is the pumpkins.

Christopher and Paife with a load of Pumpkins ready for display on our porch

Christopher and Paige with a load of Pumpkins ready for display on our porch

 

I am guessing that most homesteaders and gardeners have tried to raise a pumpkin or two over the years. I have also, but I  have never, ever, had pumpkins like this before. I planted 3 seeds… only one hill…. and so far we have 12 pumpkins and 7 were so large already that I was actually afraid the neighbors and their children may enjoy them with out my permission too! So we went pumpkin picking this holiday weekend.  I actually still have three vines blooming so we may have another load like this one in another month.

I am just over whelmed with the possibility of all the things that I can make for my oldest son and I out of these wonderful squashes.

Cody hands Christopher a pumpkin as Paige brings the wagon around  to fill it

Cody hands Christopher a pumpkin as Paige brings the wagon around to fill it

Cody and I love pumpkin and I have begun to master from scratch pumpkin pies. I am guessing we will  have enough pie filing canned for both families by the holiday season.  I was thankful that I did buy pie pumpkin seeds and thought that the white ones with the orange meat looked like fun to carve. I am sure that as the time gets closer we will have a many different looking pumpkins on the porch,but none will be as loved as the white ones we grew together!

a nice load of white pumpkins

a nice load of white pumpkins

In closing this is the recipe that I use when making a fresh pumpkin to make pies. At some point I will post a step by step instruction on how to make fresh pumpkins into a pie but for now this will get you thinking about the wonderful smells and tastes of autumn.

Fresh Pumpkin pie… a large 20 pound pumpkin can make about 4 to 5 pies (2 cups filling per pie).

Set oven to 450 degrees and roast a washed seeded quartered pumpkin on a cookie sheet for 30 to 40 minutes until the meat of the pumpkin softens and the quarters start to squish and wrinkle.

COOL for several minutes ( 30 to an hour) remove cooked meat and place about 2 cups into a food processor or blender blend until with a three tablespoons water and blended into a nice puree.

Either make a pie crust of use a store-bought crust big enough for a deep dish pie

in a large bowel mix 2 cups puree and add

2 eggs

1 cups light brown sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

3/4 can ( 8 oz) evaporated milk

bake at 450 deg for 10 minutes the reduce the heat to 350 deg for 40 to 50 minutes.

test for with knife to make sure pie filling is cooked all the way through.

This is what my daughter in law says is the best pumpkin pie she has ever had… fresh from the garden!

Categories: canning, country cooking, gardening, Halloween, Pie, pumpkin, pumpkins | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Americans are wasteful even at the Farmers Market

Today was another eye-opening experience at the farmers market. I am lucky to live in a community where we have at least 4 farmers markets within about a 12 mile area. I live in a small town of a zip code population of about 4,000 people and the neighboring town may have a zip code population that is double that. So together we may have about 12,000 with 4 farmers markets. We live in an agriculturally diverse area and many families also grow large gardens to can or freeze their own healthy foods. So farm fresh food is not hard to find here but today I learned that we as Americans are still looking at food in a non-realistic, non-healthy way.

Cody, Christopher and Paige Powers picking tomatoes and peppers in the garden

Cody, Christopher and Paige Powers picking tomatoes and peppers in the garden

I am getting ready to put up about 7 quarts of home-made spaghetti sauce and spent the morning talking to an older woman who worked the farm market stand. We of course talked about what I was making and what was real fresh and what they were short on. So after several minutes she headed out to the cooler to box up my order, as I bagged up the rest of my items. When she returned and I payed for 23 pounds of tomatoes and 5 pounds of peppers. She asked me if I might be  interested in the of tomatoes sitting on the counter. The box was about 5 pounds of over ripe, soft or damaged tomatoes. She said “no one wants these, they are not perfect. If you take them they are free.” Well of course I wanted them, why wouldn’t I, an over ripe tomato is the best tomato of all. I went on to explain that they looked pretty good to me and that I would just juice them when I got home. She felt better and I was over joyed to have another 5 pounds of tomatoes to take home.

Harvest Basket in the garden 2014

Harvest Basket in the garden 2014

Then on my way home it hit me. Why in the world would she say that unless she had thrown out many items from their stand. Tossed away food that was totally edible but not PERFECT. Why in this day and age would some one throw away food that could feed a needy family or a homeless person? Why are Americans so trained to think that a blemish is not normal or common? I felt offended at the thought that we are so wasteful. That we are not able to think about real food in an honest way. Fresh from the garden food is not perfect if you are realistic. It is only a farmer who sprays his crops with pesticides that never gets bug damage. It is only the tomato that is half-ripe and processed with chlorine that looks red but is hard and perfect looking at the Big  Box Store. It is only on a store shelf where food color is added  to tomato juice to make it red. Why are we eating like this?

As I drove, I got madder and madder. I thought about the millions of children who only see their food on the shelf at Fred Myers, King Supers or the Piggly Wiggly.  They will never see  green beans and peas growing on a vine or carrots are dug up from underground. Some will never know that their french fries are under that bushy plant and are dug up before being fried to a crispy treat. We are raising food ignorant children. We are raising people who have no real idea what fresh from the garden food looks like or tastes like. What a shame that our country has the most money and is the most disconnected from our food.

So when I got home I washed the box full of  blemished tomatoes. I cut away a few spots and pulled out a stem or two and did this.

free tomatoes ready to be made into juice

free tomatoes ready for juicing

I juiced the tomatoes and made about 1 gallon of fresh juice that my family can make into chili, a soup stock, a V-8 drink  or a marinade for a tough deer stake. I am sure I will freeze some as soon as I get a couple of freezer containers. I will use most of it fresh with in a couple of days. I am thinking that a deer roast with peppers, onions, tomatoes in the slow cooker sounds good. I am proud that I have used what others would have thrown out. I have saved my family money with free food and I have saved my child from eating processed food once again.

1 gallon fresh tomato juice  for free.

1 gallon fresh tomato juice for free.

When will American’s learn to look at food and its usefulness in less wasteful way? Was my grandmother crazy when she said,” Waste Not, Want Not.” I hope that slowly I am teaching my children that food does not need to look perfect to taste wonderful. That we can still use a deformed carrot in stew and make jam out of over ripe fruit. That we are able to live closer to the land because we understand that nothing in this life is perfect, but what God provides for us is perfectly made for our use. Amen!

Categories: Chili, cooking, country cooking, family health, gardening, health, Homestead, organic foods, regional food, soup, steak with peppers, Tomatoes, Uncategorized, venison | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bread and Butter Pickles a Family Tradition

I have vivid memories of eating my aunts Marjorie’s bread and butter pickles as a kid  at her home in Loveland, Co. I remember sitting at her round oak kitchen table(that years before belonged to my grand mother)in the tiny two bedroom gray tar paper house. Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Jack loved to garden and preserve fresh organic food. They were children of the depression and lived a frugal life style but eat better than most kings.She was a master at canning and making preserves and learned a lot from her. If she were still alive today she would be 96 years old and still asking me if I wanted to go out to the garden to pick things for a dinner salad. Fast forward 12  years and I met and married my husband who had eaten many batches of home-made Bread and Butter Pickles too. His Mom and Dad loved to make them out of the garden on the farm. Where neighbors would ask for a jar every time they had a family function or made potato salad . Yet, for some reason I never thought of making a batch of my own sweet/sour/crunchy/onion filled jar of delight. Maybe I thought the process was to long and to complicated for an afternoon project. What I discovered was that this is easy to do in a day and I made about 8 pints my first try. They are as good as every memory I have of the pickles and I cant wait to share them with my kids.

close up of sliced cucumbers

close up of sliced cucumbers

So after looking through recipes that my elderly aunt sent to me. I found her hand written recipe for the wonderful pickles and one that I had copied out of  my mother-in-laws cook book 7 or 8 years ago. ( Again why did I wait so long??)I began with a small batch so that I could taste test them as I went through the process. I wanted a crispy tangy pickle and was not sure I would get it.Really for a beginner pickles are a perfect started point and cucumbers in the summer are always easy to grow or find.

To begin the process of making Bread and Butter Pickles you will need about 20 to 30 med sized pickling cucumbers with the blossom end removed. Removing the blossom end removes an enzyme that make the pickles go soft when heated. You also need around 3 to 4 yellow onions. The yellow stay crisper in the jar so we use them.

about 30 cucumbers and a hand full of hot peppers just in from the garden

about 30 cucumbers and a hand full of hot peppers just in from the garden

After I wash and slice the pickles and onions they soak together in a salt water brine for 5 to 6 hours. This improves the crunch factor and adds the needed salt to preserve the pickles over time. I made 1/4 inch pickle slices  with my mandoline slicer and added them to the brine in the early morning and headed off to a Dr appointment. After lunch I drained off the brine to remove the extra salt and rinsed them with cold water a couple of times and set them aside until the pickle syrup is finished.

cucumber slices soaking in brine

cucumber slices soaking in brine

spices added to apple cider vinegar then boiled

spices added to apple cider vinegar then boiled

After the spices sugar and vinegar boil for just a couple of minutes strain the spices through a cloth or sieve. Add the brined onions and cucumber slices to the stock pot and heat until very hot but not boiling.

heating cucumber slices. onion rings and spiced syrup together in a 5 quart non reactive stockpot

heating cucumber slices. onion rings and spiced syrup together in a 5 quart non reactive stockpot

When pickles are hot, pack into warm sterilized jars and top with enough of pickle syrup to cover all ingredients in the jar. Then clean the lip of each jar and cover with a clean lid and seal. Process all the jars in a boiling water bath for  ten minutes and cool on a flat surface. I got 8 and 1/2 quarts of pickles out of this batch of cucumbers. They should store well for over a year but may lose color the older they get.

packing hot pickles into jars

packing hot pickles into jars

Home made Bread and Butter Pickles.

Home made Bread and Butter Pickles

 

 

Bread and Butter Crispy Kerr pickles

 

20 to 25 med size sliced cucumbers

2 to 3 yellow med onions

3/4 cup salt

3 quarts water to cover sliced veg

Add salt into 4 quarts of warm water and add cucumbers and onions, let set 5 to 6 hours. Drain and rinse with cool water  a couple of times to remove extra salt.

Add to a large non-reactive stock pot:

5 cups apple cider vinegar

5 cups sugar

2 Tablespoon mixed pickle spices

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

Bring mixture to a boil, boil 2 minutes and strain spices from syrup.

Add all the slices of onion and cucumber and heat until steaming but not boiling.

Pack into warm sterilized jars and top with sterilized rings and seals.  Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

remove and cool. Makes about 8 quarts .

Enjoy!

After the jars had cooled my son arrived for dinner that evening. I told him what I had made and I asked if he wanted to taste a few of the pickles and give me his opinion. He opened a jar took a fork and pulled out a large amount of dripping pickles and took a crunching bite. He then disappeared into the living room with the entire jar. A few minute later he reappeared in my kitchen with a fork and an empty pint jar. Astonished, I ask where were the rest of the pickles. He replied, rubbing his tummy,” I eat them”. So I know if nothing else Cody and I will eat them and they will never go to waste.

 

 

Categories: bread and butter pickles, canning, country cooking, cucumbers, pickles, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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