Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sale Seasons


A friend sent me this list from an about.com article she read.   I have always taught during my coupon classes the importance of planning ahead.  This is a great list to do just that.  I always pick up my ketchup and other condiments in May/June because they're on sale and usually have coupons to match.  I buy at least a year's worth.  That way I don't have to worry about it for quite a while.
I encourage each of you to do the do the same.  Could be some really good deals on different types of food and next year's Christmas gifts in the next couple of weeks.  
Oh, and I've already seen Easter displays up at the stores.  WHAT!!!

January
Food: 
Chocolate (Christmas clearance) 
Soda 
Diet foods 
Frozen finger foods
Non-food: Linens 
Electronics 
Cameras 
Computers 
Small appliances 
Air conditioners 
Carpeting and flooring 
Furniture 
Winter clothes 
Toys (on clearance after the holidays) 
Bicycles 
Christmas gift wrap 
Christmas decorations 
Athletic shoes 
Exercise equipment 
Motorcycles 
Houses 
Boats 
Motorcycles 
Anything from thrift stores
February
Food: 
Chocolate (post Valentine’s Day) 
Steak (post Valentine’s Day) 
Seafood (post Valentine’s Day) 
Oatmeal
Non-food: 
Big screen TVs (before the Super Bowl) 
Cameras 
Motorcycles 
Boats 
Air conditioners 
Tools 
recliners
March
Food: 
Frozen foods
Non-food: 
Boats
April
Food: 
Candy (Easter clearance) 
Eggs 
Ham 
Cheese 
Mustard 
Ready-made dough 
Dinner rolls 
Frozen pies 
Cake mix 
Cake frosting 
Pie crusts
Non-Food: 
Electronics 
Vacuums 
Cookware 
Tires and other car care supplies
May
Food: 
Hotdogs 
Ground beef 
Hamburger and hot dog buns 
Condiments (ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, relish) 
Salad dressing 
Chips 
Ice cream 
Popsicles 
Frozen pies 
Soda 
Bottled water
Non-food: 
Party supplies (disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils) 
Grill supplies (charcoal, lighter fluid) 
Vacuums 
Cookware
June
Food: 
Ice cream 
Popsicles 
Soda 
Bottled water 
Iced tea mix and bags
Non-food: 
Tools (around Father’s Day)
July
Food: 
Hot dogs 
Ground beef 
Hamburger and hot dog buns 
Condiments (ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, relish) 
Salad dressing 
Chips 
Ice cream 
Popsicles 
Soda 
Bottled water 
Iced tea mix and bags
Non-food: 
Grill supplies (charcoal, lighter fluid) 
Party supplies (disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils) 
Furniture
August
Food: 
Cereal 
Breakfast bars 
Peanut butter 
Jelly 
Lunch meat 
American cheese 
Yogurt 
Chips 
Snack cakes 
Cookies 
Ice cream 
Soda 
Bottled water 
Iced tea mix and bags 
Drink boxes
Non-food: 
Pool supplies 
Outdoor toys 
Outdoor furniture 
Bathing suits 
Summer clothes 
Summer shoes
September
Food: 
Cereal 
Breakfast bars 
Peanut butter 
Jelly 
Lunch meat 
American cheese 
Yogurt 
Chips 
Snack cakes 
Cookies 
Hot dogs 
Ground beef 
Hamburger and hot dog buns 
Condiments (ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, relish) 
Salad dressing 
Canned fruits and vegetables 
Soups 
Broth 
Frozen pies 
Soda 
Drink boxes
Non-food: 
Grill supplies (charcoal, lighter fluid) 
Party supplies (disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils) 
School supplies 
Large appliances (refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers) 
Cars 
Lawn mowers 
Grills 
Trees, shrubs and bulbs
October
Food: 
Canned fruits and vegetables 
Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, cranberries) 
Soups 
Broth
Non-food: 
Large appliances 
Lawn mowers 
Grills 
Tires and other car care supplies 
Jeans 
Trees, shrubs and bulbs
November
Food: 
Turkey 
Butter 
Cheese 
Baking supplies (flour, sugar, yeast chocolate chips, baker’s chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, cooking oil) 
Pie crusts 
Ready-made dough 
Dinner rolls 
Frozen pies 
Cake mix 
Cake frosting 
Pie filling 
Spices 
Nuts 
Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, cranberries) 
Oatmeal 
Candy (Halloween clearance) 
Marshmallows 
Soup 
Broth
Non-food: 
Aluminum foil 
Plastic wrap 
Disposable baking pans 
Cookware 
Electronics 
Tools 
Carpeting and flooring 
Trees, shrubs and bulbs
December
Food: 
Ham 
Butter 
Cheese 
Baking supplies (flour, sugar, yeast chocolate chips, baker’s chocolate, sweetened condensed 
milk, cooking oil) 
Pie crusts 
Ready-made dough 
Dinner rolls 
Frozen pies 
Cake mix 
Cake frosting 
Pie filling 
Refrigerated cookie dough 
Spices 
Nuts 
Dried fruits (raisins, apricots, cranberries) 
Oatmeal 
Soda
Non-food: 
Disposable baking pans 
Aluminum foil 
Plastic wrap 
Electronics 
Computers 
Carpeting and flooring 
Tools 
Toys 
Winter clothes 
Cars 
Motorcycles

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Night Canning

A couple of weeks ago, I bought 140 lbs of ground beef and chicken tenders.  I had three pressure canners going at one point.  Two of them, my big ones, I used outside on my Camp Chef stove.  I have two Camp Chef stoves. One with two burners and the other has three burners.  I've also used my turkey fryer burner on which to can.  

Below you'll see a couple of pictures of my late night.  Actually I think it was only about 8 or 9 pm when these were taken.  You can see the jars of beef and chicken behind the steam from the first picture. It was quite chilly outside.  That did help the jars cool down quite fast.

This picture is of my Presto pressure canner.  Sad story:  The canner had 13 minutes left to process.  I asked my 11 year old son to go out and check on the pressure gauge for me.  He came back and said it was close to 15 lbs pressure.  I told him to turn it down a bit.  Well, he turned it down too much and the pressure went below 10lbs pressure, so we had to start the WHOLE THING over again.  Brought it back to 10lbs pressure and set the timer for 75 minutes.  UGH!!  

The rest of the sad story is that I ruined my canner.  With it being on the heat for nearly three straight hours caused it to bow out and I had to throw it away.  It was a great canner.  I highly recommend the Prestos.  I got that one specifically because it's made to go on glass top stoves, which I have.  So, I'll have to get another big Presto before the next big canning venture.


This picture is of my All-American canner cooling down after a batch.  The beef next to it are also cooling and because it's so cold outside, you can see the steam rising from them.

I do recommend having some sort of alternative way of cooking and canning.  If the power goes out, the meat I have in the freezer won't be lost because I'll be able to thaw it and put it in the jars and can it.  Plus, just being able to cook something hot and soothing in case of an emergency will be quite a blessing.  Make sure you have plenty of propane to run it.  

I canned 40 lbs of the chicken = 33 pints.
Canned 40lbs of ground beef = 43 pints (3 didn't seal)

I froze the other 20 lbs of chicken.  Cooked up 20 lbs of ground beef and put in freezer in 1 lbs freezer bags.  Made the other 20 lbs into meatloaves.  I think I got nine meatloaves.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

List of Skills


Lately, I've been impressed to compile a list of skills that one would need to live a self-reliant life.  I certainly don't think I'll ever be able to learn all of these, but there are definitely many that I could focus on and broaden my horizon.  I challenge those of you reading the blog to pick one on the list that interests you and start learning about it.  Seek out books, look on the internet, make a new friend that can teach you and then, practice, practice, practice. 

These are not all of my ideas, but a compilation from many from the yahoogroups I belong to.  If you have others that you think should be added to the list, please let me know.

Preserving Food

Canning
Dehydrating
Root Cellaring
Fermenting
Meat Preparation
--cleaning preparing wild game/fish
Preservation w/out power
--smoking
--curing


Domestic Skills

Soap Making
Candle Making
Sewing
Knitting
Crocheting
Quilting
Laundering clothes/using a clothesline
Shoe/moccasin making
Grinding Grains
Bread making
Alternative ways to cook
Cooking
Baking

Gardening

Sprouting
Planting
Soil Preparation
Irrigation
Mulching
Pest/disease Control
Harvesting
Seed Saving
Three season garden
Prep for winter

Medical Care

Pandemic/biological response methods
Disease control
First Aid
CPR
Burn & would care
Home nursing
Alternative Medicine (essential oils, herbs)

Outdoor Skills

Building shelters
Fishing techniques
Trapping/snaring
Hunting
Shooting
Foraging for wild edibles
Fire making
Collecting (downing/cutting/splitting) firewood
Animal Husbandry
Knife Sharpening/use of a chain saw

Mechanical Skills

Basic home repairs
Basic carpentry
Mechanic
Metal worker, including blacksmith
Electrical
Plumbing


Misc. Skills

Alcohol for fuel making
Windmill/wind generator & solar power
Water collection/purification/safety
Various sanitation disposal method
Communications (ham radio & other methods)
Firefighting and other safety techniques
Alcohol for fuel making
Scrounger/gatherer
A love for learning
Seeking God’s guidance
Bartering
Ham Radio


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gelatin for Health

I recommend reading this article of the health benefits of using gelatin. Also, I recommend reading the comments below the article.

http://zentofitness.com/gelatin/

The Hidden Power of Gelatin

Most of us have heard about Gelatin- its probably what comes to mind when you think of either baking or gummy bears. What not many people know about Gelatin is that is can actually be a very good addition to your diet, with a host of health benefits:

Improving Hair, Skin and Joint/tendon health

Soothes the Digestive tract

Contains many essential and non-essential amino acids including Arginine and Glycine

A natural Anti-Inflamatory

Stimulates the immune system

Regulates Hormones

So what is Gelatin? Gelatin is the an animal product found naturally in the hoofs, bones, skin etc basically the collagen of animals. I know this sounds disgusting but what we forget is that in the old days gelatin was a key part of our diet and was used in a load of recipes when baking and it even comes off the bones naturally in things like Bone Broths. Sadly we do not each many of these dishes anymore leaving gelatin sorely lacking from our diet.

One of the first and most substantial things Gelatin can do is improve your skins and hair health. Our skin is made of Collagen and this requires Vitamin C for our bodies to produce. Alternativly we have the option of eating more gelatin rich foods or gelatin which will help your skin become smoother, firmer and clearer over time. This benefit also transfers over to your hair which will start to look shinier and stronger within weeks of eating gelatin on a regular basis.

As mentioned earlier Gelatin contains Arginine and Glycine. This is important as it is one of the few protein sources to contain large amounts of these amino acids.

Arginine can have a metabolism boosting effect, more importantly though is the benefit of Glycine which has two main functions -- Firstly it helps build muscle and secondly it converts glucose to energy rather than fat. This is key as the more things in our diet that prevent lipolysis and promote fat oxidation the better. Glycine is especially good at soothing and rebuilding the digestive tract therefore I highly recommend it to anyone with things like ulcers or a leaky gut. It even helps absorb calcium in the gut and has been shown to have a calming effect soon after ingestion.

I decided to write this post as I have started integrating Gelatin into my diet recently and have noticed some great results. For one my joints have definitely gotten a lot more supple and my digestion feels a lot better, so the stuff has definitely done some healing. The dry skin I normally have on my elbows has also gone. On top of this it is and easy to integrate into the diet……

You only need around 1-2TBSP’s per day or a few times a week. This is pretty easy to mix into stuff as it has no flavour and just adds a slight gooey gelatinous texture to whatever you are eating, which definitely isnt a bad thing. Here are a few ideas:

Smoothies (this is really easy and goes unnoticed)

Oatmeal (Again due to the naturally gooey texture goes unnoticed)

Soups and Stews

Vegetable Curries (adds a nice protein boost)

Yoghurt

You can get creative though and try it with a host of things. It is a pretty safe to experiment with as it holds no flavour…….

Which type? Go for the powdered type which you can find pretty easily in the baking section of most food stores. If you go to an organic/health food shop you will be able to find some kind of Organic non-hydrolyzed version which is the best type to go for. I haven’t seen it myself but have heard there is also a vegetarian version you can get which is made from seaweed gelatin, rather than from animal source (obviously this would not hold the same benefits).

So if you see an opportunity to use gelatin then give it a try - in smoothies, soups or your morning oatmeal…..

The Many Uses of Gelatin

What!? A blog post on gelatin.? Yup. I was laying in bed this morning thinking about Thanksgiving dinner and the lovely and delightful Jell-o salad I made. It's my favorite thing at the table and I made it just for me. However, this year those dang kids of mine found out how simply marvelous it really is....and they ate it. They fought over it even and the salad that usually lasts for a couple of days for ME, was gone in a day. So unfair.

I thought about making some Jell-o for dinner tonight and I have an ample supply of Jell-o but my family inhales it making it a rather expensive luxury for those little buggers. I was thinking about the fact that I could take fruit juice and make my own Jell-o using unflavored gelatin and how would I do that. I do own unflavored gelatin but have never really used it.

Well, that's not exactly true.

I have a confession to make. I'm rather embarrassed but since it's been two decades ago, I think I can stand the shame. Once, in college, I was seriously jonesin' for some chocolate chip cookie dough. We had no eggs, but we had unflavored gelatin. WHAT? That doesn't even make sense. Moving on....I happened to read the box and found out that you can use unflavored gelatin as a replacement for eggs. Yes, I did. I made the dough without the egg and WITH the unflavored gelatin. I think the cooked cookies would've tasted better, but alas....I ate the dough anyway. Sick, huh? Those days are behind me now and I thought I'd expand on the wisdom of having some unflavored gelatin in your home storage.

• Unprepared gelatin has an indefinite shelf-life as long as it is wrapped airtight and stored in a cool, dry place.

• Keep gelatin dishes refrigerated until ready to serve to maintain their gelatinous state.

• Do not add fresh or frozen pineapple to gelatin or Jell-O. These fruits, along with raw figs, kiwifruit, guava, ginger root, and papaya contain an enzyme called bromelain which breaks down gelatin causing it to lose its thickening properties. The enzymes are deactivated by cooking, so canned pineapple and kiwi are fine to use.

• To avoid clumping, dry unflavored gelatin should be mixed with a little cold water first for 3 to 5 minutes to moisten and separate before adding hot water.

• Thicker stock and a more delicate flavor results from using veal bones rather than beef bones since the veal has more collagen which gels the stock.

• Store gelatin desserts in a covered container to avoid the formation of a thick rubbery skin on the surface.

• Too much sugar can inhibit gelatinization. The more sugar in the recipe, the softer the resultant gelatin will be.

• Firmness varies on the ratio of water to gelatin and temperature. You can successfully melt down (gently using a double-boiler) and re-chill gelatin several times before the mixture loses its thickening ability.

• Gelatin takes twice as long to dissolve when used with cream or milk.

• When using sugar with unflavored gelatin, mix the sugar and gelatin first before dissolving.

• To suspend fruits, meats, or vegetables in gelatin, chill until it is the consistency of cold egg whites. Then mix in the additions and chill until completely set.

• Be sure to drain all solids of their liquid before adding to gelatin to avoid watering down the gelatin.

• For 2 cups of gelatin mixture, allow 1 to 2 cups of solids, either minced, cubed, or cut into small pieces.

• To easily unmold gelatin, spray the mold with cooking oil before filling. If you want to avoid an oily film which might cloud the surface by using oil spray, simply rinse the mold with cold water prior to filling. Or dip the mold into warm (not hot) water to the depth of the gelatin for 5 to 10 seconds, loosen edges with a knife or spatula, and unmold. Return to the refrigerator for 20 minutes to refirm.

• Use 1 envelope (1 tablespoon or 1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin to 2 cups of water for standard firmness. Decrease or increase water for your particular needs. One 3-ounce package of flavored, sweetened gelatin needs 2 cups of water. One tablespoon of unflavored powdered gelatin equals 4 sheets of leaf gelatin.

• Two hours of chilling should be enough for standard clear molds, while it may take up to 4 hours for those with additions. Layered gelatins will take longer, since each layer must be individually chilled and firmed before adding the next layer.

• If you are doubling a recipe originally calling for 2 cups of liquid, use only 3-3/4 cups of liquid in the doubled recipe.

• Other liquids can be used in place of water to prepare gelatin, including fruit juices, clarified vegetable or meat stock, wine, vegetable juices and seafood broths.

• Do not bring gelatin mixtures to a full boil or you risk losing its thickening properties.

Tips taken from: http://homecooking.about.com/od/specificfood/a/gelatintips.htm



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yahoo Groups

I'm not sure if you're aware of the vast amounts of information on the internet via Yahoo Groups. Yahoo Groups are essentially online clubs you can join with the luxury of staying in your pajamas to participate. I belong to quite a few.

There, you will find people who are so knowledgeable in the subject of the group, that it will just blow your mind. Also, most of the groups have compiled extensive files that you can browse and download to add to your own library of recipes, techniques, skills and all around know-how. Many also have photos they've uploaded of all sorts of things like container garden ideas, canned food, food pantries and other efforts.

The best part of Yahoo Groups is the fact that they're free. Some of them require you to "apply" for membership through a moderator, but that's mostly there to keep out the riff-raff, and certainly none of my readers is riff-raff. :) Other groups you can join and have immediate access to the files and posts.

To join just go to yahoogroups.com and sign up. You can do a search for subjects you're interested in. Below are a few that I belong to that I highly recommend. You can search for them directly.

PrepJr
food-storage (must include the hyphen)
preserving-food (must include the hyphen)
FPDC&M
ediblecontainergardens

If you have any other suggestions for good storage skills type groups, please let me know. The more the merrier.

Hope to see you around. Even if you're just a lurker on the groups. You'll surely pick up something to add to your treasure chest of knowledge.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Almond Cheesecake Bars


This is a bonus post just for Thanksgiving. I received this recipe in an email through a yahoogroup. It's so easy to make and it tastes wonderful. Enjoy!

Almond Cheesecake Bars

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar

FILLING:

1 - 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten

FROSTING:

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
4 to 5 tsp milk

Combine the flour, butter and icing sugar; press onto the bottom of a
greased 13 x 9" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes
or until golden brown.

For filling, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and extract
until smooth. Add eggs and beat on low speed just until combined.

Pour over crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until center is almost
set. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine the frosting ingredients until smooth; spread over bars. Store
in the refrigerator.

Makes: 3 dozen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finding Jars


Canning as a way of food preservation is making a come back. With all the difference pesticides and other food additives, many are choosing to can their own food in order to insure a quality product for themselves and their families. With the increase of popularity of the skill, the increase the demand for canning jars and supplies.

I thought I'd give a few tips on gathering jars as inexpensively as possible.

1. Free is always best.
- Ask for them. Especially the older generation. Many canned religiously but with the ease of getting food and their increased age, they don't want to be bothered anymore. (Great source to teach canning as well)
-Put out a request on Freecycle and Craigslist in your area. Remember to check areas that surround your area. Be willing to travel.

I must throw in a story or two of my experiences with Freecycle and Craigslist.

Freecycle - I threw out a request on my Freecycle group for canning jars. I was rewarded with a response from a lady that was moving and wanted to get ride of all her canning supplies. She gave me about 500 jars of different sizes as well as lids, tools and a Victorio Strainer. FREE!!! HELLO!!! Major score!

Craigslist - I saw an ad in the FREE category. I had to travel about 30 minutes North but was rewarded with 70 jars plus lids and rings. Again...a great score.

They're out there, you just have to keep your eyes open.

2. Not free but cheap.
- Craigslist - I'm finding that "jar owners" are tuning into the fact that they can make a little money off of their jar cache. Don't let them take advantage of you. Remember you can buy a whole box of brand new jars, lids and rings for less than $12 usually. (quarts always cost the most) I usually will spend as much as .50/jar but that's it. .50/jar for quarts and less than that for pints and half pints. Be respectful but bargain with them a bit, especially since they're not offering lids and rings.

Another Craigslist story - I saw an ad for an All American pressure canner and a lot of about 70 jars for $100. It sat their for a while but then I couldn't stand it any longer and bought it all. Everything was nearly new. The husband was getting rid of his wife's canning collection. That canner retails for just under $200 and the jars would've easily been around $50 brand new. Good deal!

-Keep your eyes open at yard sales and flea markets. You may pick up one here and one there, but usually it'll be closer to half a dozen or more. The same rules apply for pricing as above.

3. Stores. Boring, I know. Usually Big Lots has the least expensive prices on jars. They carry the Golden Harvest brand of jars. Walmart also carries jars during the summer (canning season) for decent prices. This year Ball and Kerr put out coupons for jars, you can use those at the Walmart.

Usually the grocery stores will be the most expensive. They typically carry jars all year long. That's your last resort though.

TIPS

--When you go to pick up your jars, make sure you run your finger around the edge of the rim to check for any chips or cracks. You're not going to want to pay for those.
--Give the jars a good looking over to check for cracks or funky spots. I've had a couple of jars straight out of a new box that weren't completely blown out, they had a indent in them. Thus making them completely unusable.
--Most stores will put their canning supplies out around late April or early May. Prepare be saving some money throughout the winter to bump up your supply when they're available again. By the first of November here, Walmart was sold out of all their jars here in NJ. Down South, you'll probably find them earlier in the year and later into the Fall and even Winter. Canning is more of a way of life down there. Kinda like Mecca for me. :)

Hope that gives you some ideas. Just keep your eyes open and no doubt you'll amass quite a collection. Good luck!

Wheat vs. Flour

I often get asked questions that require a specific answer for the person asking. Like, how much flour do you put in your bread recipe? Or how long do you knead the dough? Or how many children do you have? HA! Just seeing if you're awake.

Most of the time specifics are not very important to me. When it comes to bread, I mostly do it by feel and what I see happening to the dough. So, I'm trying to pay a bit more attention when I'm baking bread or doing other skill-related tasks so that I can return and report.

My husband and I were talking about how much wheat we felt we needed to have in storage in order to have at least a year's supply. He's a perfectionist/specific kinda guy. This frustrates us both from time to time. :)

Today I made some wheat bread. I decided to measure out wheat berries and then grind them and measure the flour that was created.

I put two cups of wheat berries into the grinder and out came a little over four cups of flour. So, that should help you and my husband for future wheat calculations.

2 Cups Wheat Berries = 4 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour

An additional note: I tend to mix and match my grains and legumes when making bread. Today's bread was 4 cups of wheat berries, 1 cup dried navy beans, 1 1/2 cups of buckwheat and about 1/3 cup of whole flax seed. This combo produced 13 1/2 cups of flour. Turned out to be the right amount for my dough today.

My recipe also called for 1/2 cup of oatmeal. I had a daughter who made oatmeal for breakfast this morning and about 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal was left. Perfect! I just threw it in the water when mixing up the dough. That could've contributed a bit for the extra amount of flour I needed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Canning Shredded Pork

I'm having a bit of trouble with my pictures loading so until I get that figured out I'll just explain the beginning of the experiment.

I was at the Sam's Club last week and noticed their country spare ribs were on sale for $1.42/lb. My husband loves when I slow cook them in barbecue sauce and serve either as a sandwich or over rice. But, then I got this great idea. So, I bought three packages.

I am loving my new Nesco digital pressure cooker. I rubbed some bbq rub on the meat and put one package into my cooker. I put a little water in the bottom and a steamer insert inside onto which I put the meat. I set the cooker for 45 minutes. At the end, the ribs were perfect. The meat fell off the bones when I was shredding it for pulled pork sandwiches. That was about the easiest meal I've ever made.

I cooked the other two packages the same way and had quite a bit of meat that I could then can.

Here is most of what I cooked and shredded from the pork ribs. We did eat some for dinner the night I bought them. This is one of those big disposable plastic containers nearly full.
I filled up three and a half quarts with the pork. I had saved the broth from cooking the pork and used that as the liquid. The jar furtherest to the right looks a little different because I used water to fill that one. I ran out of the broth.

Make sure the rims are wiped down really well because the pork was a bit greasy and you want the lids to seal on to the jars successfully. I used a little soap on my cloth just to make sure. I know of some people who will use rubbing alcohol or white vinegar on the rims. I haven't found that necessary, but with the greasy food, I just wanted to do a little more.
Inside are the three quarts and one pint of pork. I filled the canner up with three extra quart jars of water. I processed the jars at 10lbs pressure for 90 minutes in my pressure canner.

I'm pretty thrilled with the outcome of this particular experiment. I bought the meat for $1.42/lb. We ate dinner from it and I got at least three more dinners from it. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to record how many pounds I bought. I want to say about 7-8 lbs altogether. A couple of the packages were bone-in so they weighed a little more for a little less meat. But the rib bones are not that large.

You may wonder why there are a few bottles of water in the canner. I've learned to do this for a couple of reasons.
#1 - keeping the canner full helps to cut down on the jiggling inside, especially in a water bath canner
#2 - the water will be sterile and can be used for emergencies

I don't usually have a less-than-full canner, but when I do, I just fill up some quart jars with regular tap water and slap a lid/ring on it. No big deal.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baking Bread in the Sun Oven

Thanks to my mom and dad, I'm now a proud owner of a Sun Oven (sunoven.com)
I've been anxious to test it out.

I put the oven outside before I started to mix up my bread in order to warm it up. Just like a regular oven you want to get the Sun Oven up to temperature.

I was using this the second week of October in NJ. It was quite a warm day actually and only took about 30 minutes to warm up to 350 degrees.
I've seen a few pictures where four loaves fit in the oven. I only baked two because it was my first try and I didn't want to ruin four. I baked my other two loaves in the conventional oven. I was surprised at the difference.
This picture was taken just before I opened the oven to take out the bread. Let me warn you. This this is HOT!!! It's 350 degrees. Please make sure you have your oven mitts handy, you're going to need them. And it's daggum hot just getting into the oven with the reflectors doing their thing, you may need to don a pair of sunglasses as well. Just be careful.
There they all. All baked and yummy.
I didn't put enough dough in each of the pans so my bread is a little flat. That's all my fault. Again, I wasn't trusting the Sun Oven with a full loaf. Oh me of little faith. This bread was perfect. It browned evenly and the Sun Oven retains moisture so the bread comes out just lovely. It's not even a bit dried out.
See that! Perfect. I highly recommend adding a solar oven to your emergency supplies. You can cook in it all year long. I'm looking forward to trying it during the dead of winter. The oven doesn't even have to be used only for an emergency, it can be used to cut down on other energy costs, cuz the sun is free!

Pears

My across-the-street neighbor let's me pick as many pears as I want each summer.
The tree wasn't as plentiful as last year,
but it still provided plenty for my family as well as a friend to put up.

This year I tried something a bit different and I'm really pleased with the way they turned out. This year I used my steam juicer and Victorio strainer to cook down the pears to make pear sauce as well as pear juice.

Below you can see the hopper of the steam juicer full of quartered pears. I washed them all first and just cut them up and put them in the juicer--stems, seeds, peels and all.

You can see how the juicer is set up with the tubing coming out and a pot set below to catch the juice that will be extracted from the pears.
Yes, all those pears from the first picture cooked down to half.
All that juice is in the pot below.
I took the cooked pears that are all hot and smushy and put them in my strainer. With a turn of the crank, out one side came the sauce (like applesauce) and the other end came the stems, seeds and some of the peelings. Just like that.
Here's a full picture of the strainer. The sauce will come out of the left side there and the stems and seeds will come out of the tube that you can't see. Great picture huh? :)
I put the sauce in the jars and process them in a boiling water bath for
the same time as applesauce.
Here is a picture of all the juice I collected in the pot below the juicer.
Look at all that beautiful juice. It's just perfect and pure. I processed the pear juice just like apple juice. I was able to use all the bits and pieces of those free pears. YAY!!!