Canning tip #3

Steam is hot.  It will burn you.

Says she who got a 3 inch scald a week ago and just for good measure, did it again this week to remind herself…

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Canning tip #2

Don’t be stupid like me and put a sharp knife (used for whatever purpose) into the sink where it can be obscured by veg.  You will get cut.

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Canning tip #1

You will get burned eventually.  Don’t sweat it.

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How to make Applesauce – and other adventures in food

This week has been a busy canning week!  Everything is ripe.  But, because we finally ate up the last jar of applesauce from 2009 in August, (I made an overabundance, being able to pick up burlap bags full of seconds from Allison’s Orchard in Walpole NH that year.) I’ve decided to do apples.  Lots of apples.

Before the apples, however, there were a couple of other adventures in food.  We had grapes this year!  Really the first nice harvest, which was brought about by a wine tasting at a winery last February, where the sommelier told me how to trim grape vines.  So, what do you do with an abundance of sour grapes?  Why, make wine of course!  So I did.  Here it is bubbling happily away.

Then, a friend brought us a 5 gallon pail of pears.  So those got canned up into 9 quarts of pears in light syrup.  See the happy pears?  🙂

20150829_101822We also picked and made 9 quarts of tomato juice, but I don’t have a picture of that…sorry, bad blogger!

Then there were the apples.  One of our trees dropped most of it’s fruit early and I missed it.  The other, however, had most of it’s fruit still on it, so yesterday, my little chickadee and I picked it.

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Then, youngest son and I foraged a bunch of these beautiful apples.  Aren’t they pretty?  They are pink inside!

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Because they were small, applesauce it was.  So here’s how to do it:

Wash your apples and pull any leaves and branches off.20150904_164436

Cook your apples up until the skin starts to come off.  These aren’t quite done yet.20150904_164810

Fish the apples out with a slotted spoon, and put them thru your food mill.  Use the larger screen, because the seeds jam up the smaller screen.  My helpers fight to be the kid to crank and squish!  Though when I helped, I cut up my fingers on the metal edge of the hopper (folding tables are not the best choice for attaching the food mill, but it’s what we’ve got) and am now mis-typing every other word due to the bandages.  What’s canning without a little blood or a burn?  😉

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I had a 12 quart pot full of apple sauce.  Sugar to taste.  I used 5 cups of sugar for this batch.  The sugar also helps the applesauce to become more liquid – I like a fairly juiceless sauce, so I don’t add much, just enough to make it less than tar.

Then, spice to taste.  I used 6 tbsp of cinnamon, 4 tbsp of nutmeg, and 2 tbsp of cloves for this batch.  I wing the spices, because different apples require more or less spicing.  Keep tasting your applesauce.

Bring it to a boil and ladle into sterilized jars.  Water bath can or 60 minutes.  Yummy goodness to be eaten with cheddar cheese or heavy cream.

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How to make Radish Pod pickles

I tell ‘ya, radishes are the plant that just keeps giving.  You can eat the root, the leaf, AND the seed pod.  I let my radishes bolt, because I save seeds.  The first year I did this, I left too many in the ground to bolt.  Then, going out to pick seeds I though…”There’s GOT to be something I can do with these seeds!”  Thus was born the Radish Pod pickle.  They’ve become quite the fancy Christmas condiment at my house.  Here’s how you do it.

Pick the pods and strip them from the stalk.

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Wash them to remove any other debris (leafs, grass, etc)

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Wash and sterilize your jars.

In the bottom of your clean jars, put:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig fresh dill

Then, jam those bad boys (the radish pods) into the jar; as many as you can fit.  You can squish them in, because as you add the brine, they always seem to shrink.

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Cook up your brine and get your water for the bath going.

While that’s starting to boil, add, on top of the radish pods, the following:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 Tsp Mustard seed – I use brown.
  • a pinch dill seed
  • 1 shake (less than 1/4 tsp) cayenne powder

On to the brine –

  • 12 cups water
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup salt
  • 2 tsp Gerra spice (If you don’t have Gerra, use 1 tsp paprika and 1 tsp cinnamon

Pour boiling brine into jars.  Seal and process for 15 minutes for pint jars.

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Mama Weinstein’s Bombay Burger…

So, on Friday, as we were having a family dinner, I made the best burger that I’ve ever made.  They were awesomely nummy-goodness-sex-in-your-mouth.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe.

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 eggs

Mix with your hands and pat into patties.  Grill on high until mostly done (bottoms are charred and cooked all the way thru).  Flip and grill for 3-5 more minutes.  If you want, add a slice of American Cheese for a cheeseburger. 20150627_120657[1]

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How to eat the whole radish. Recipes!

Let me count the ways I love radishes…

Ok, so I know most of you really don’t like ’em.  They’re small, strange, and spicy.  But…I recall them as the thing to eat when at a family gathering on my father’s side.  My grandparent’s house was tiny.  It was originally the stable for a rectory and not in a great part of town.  When converted, the first floor consisted of a living room, dining room and kitchen.  Sometimes, when the whole family came, the kids had to eat in the kitchen or stretched out along the wall, because we didn’t fit at the table.  Anyway, I digress.  There were two camps, the TV camp, with my grandfather in the living room, mostly watching things like “CHiPs”, and the kitchen, where all the women went.

Sometimes, we kids were allowed to watch tv on the 12 inch black and white in there, and then, oh, then, we ate vegies.  Alternately, we were allowed to hang out with the older ladies, because the really old ladies (my great grandmother and great aunts, hadn’t come)  Anyway, Radishes with salt, celery sticks, (also with salt) and the occasional (not really, my grandmother made this every time we came) sherbert punch.  O. My. Goodness.

So, I assocate radishes with happy times.  Because of this, and because my kids and husband *don’t* like them – oh the horrors!, and because they grow literally anywhere and are entirely edible,  I’ve been on a quest to make great radish dishes.  So, with that preface, here are two.

The radish bake.

  • Pull up your radishes. (Save the greens!  They’ll come into use later.)  I used about 12.20150612_112640
  • Clean and cut them into halves.  20150612_16125820150612_161302
  • Peel 4 carrots and slice them.
  • Put both into a baking dish
  • I added about 6 garlic scrapes and a few chive blossoms for color and flavor. 20150612_11305220150612_164226
  • Spray with Pam or add a couple of table spoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • I added (and the spicing here is completely up to what’s available in your garden) Rosemary and Oregano.  I’ve also previously used Thyme, Lavender, Marjoram, – use what speaks to you in the moment.
  • Cook covered at 375 for 30 – 45 minutes or until the radishes look wrinkly. 20150612_164717

Even the kids nummed this up!

And on to the second dish, for which, apologetically, I don’t have pictures, as we were all too greedily eating dinner.  Radish greens, so good for you and so … not known! And easy.  Did I mention this one was ridiculously easy?

  • 8 oz of ricotta cheese
  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt, and pepper to taste in the cheese.
  • Radish greens (for this, I mean the leaves without the stems) I took them off the central stem and roughly chopped them.
  • 3 sprigs of mint, rough chopped.

Mix up cheese, salt, pepper and mint.  Let sit while cooking greens.  Put 1/4 a cup of water in a frying pan and heat.  Add radish greens and cook, turning until *just* dark.  Drain. Add to mint and cheese mixture.  Mix and serve.  Ooo…so very good and good for you!!!

And who knew you could eat the whole radish?

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Sewing machine – some basics and a bit of a life ramble

It occurs to me, as I have spent the better part of my “time off” either sewing or reading since January, that sewing is fast becoming a lost art.  I’d like to be working with my kids to change this, but while they’re interested (read as have the patience to sew a 3 inch seam by hand in under 5 minutes), I’ve got to get some costuming done for our big event, and have a newly minted (and growing) teen boy.  He’s grown so much, in fact, since our last event that he doesn’t fit anything that used to be his.  Ergo, mom needs to sew him some new stuff.

A little background here – das husband and I used to run a business called Belt and Bodice, where he made the leather stuff and I made the clothing, for sale.  I’ve done a LOT of sewing over the years.  I was also the back up costumer for a renaissance fair.  Like I said, LOTS of sewing.  Much of that was done on a treadle.  I happen to like treadles better than electrics for several reasons.  They’re steel geared (never break on you) and can run thru pretty much anything you throw at them.  They’re also more controllable.   All sewing machines are driven by one of two things – a belt or a hand crank.  Hand crank machines were much more common in Europe and cities, so finding them can be like hens teeth if you live rurally.  They also tend to be expensive.  You’re much more likely to find a  wheel and belt driven treadle machine.

A word on treadles – in our previous lives, das husband and I used to regularly visit the local auction.  We’d buy cheap treadles and I’d rehab them for sale in the business  I can’t even say how many treadles have passed thru our house.  I can say, however, that at one point, I think we owned about 7…that number is now down to 3 and one hand crank.

Treadles are fairly simple to operate; pump the pedal, the wheel moves the belt, which turns the hand wheel, which moves the needle. The needle does the sewing.  Here’s a little diagram for you to look at. treadle diagram  If you are interested in these machines, there’s a very nice group of folks who mostly do quilting, but who also rehab machines at http://www.treadleon.net/  They’ve got an awesome list serve that can answer most any question and used to pony express machines across the country.

That said, most folks think electric when they think sewing machine.  I’m fond of the post war steel geared machines that, like treadles, are indestructible.  They were also the height of non-computerized machine tech.  Personally, I like Morse and White brand machines. Your mileage may vary if you end up getting addicted to sewing machines!  These are typically available very cheaply – just last week, I saw a knee activated post-war White with cams (discs you stick into the machine for a pattern) and a double needle (needed for things like jeans) for $50 in a local resale shop.  A similar, but modern, computer based machine with plastic gears will start around $300.

So now that you’ve chosen a machine, what do you do?  Well, you try to sew something.  Start simple.  Even so, you’ll likely mess it up.  Keep going – sewing is one of those places that even when you know what you’re doing, you still regularly mess stuff up.  Buy a pattern and follow the directions.  Take a class at your local fabric store.  Experiment.  Watch You-tube videos.  Try something new.  Like anything, sewing takes regular practice.  It’s frustrating, but proper prep (using pins, cutting things correctly etc) makes the actual sewing of the seams work right.

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How to make your own (cheap) grow shelves

Much of this post is a repeat from one I did a few years ago, but here, in the great, cold north, we’ve not even begun our starts yet because it’s been too cold.  So I give you how to make your own grow shelves, revisited:

What did we do?  Well, out of our stock of ridiculously random things in the basement, we pulled a single, lone four foot light fixture.  The other fixtures we bought from Lowes, to give us a grand total of 4 light fixtures.  They are called “T8”.  Each shelf needs two fixtures.  The fixtures must be on chains or some other system that allows you to raise and lower the lamps close (by close, I mean within an inch of the starter pots) to the pots.  If you don’t have two fixtures, some plant’s will get light and others?  Nada.

Then, we got 2  four foot long boot trays.  I got mine from my local Gardeners Supply (gardeners.com).  These make watering much easier if you don’t have the ability to let stuff drip; I don’t, my light shelf is in my kitchen and serves as a catch-all for much of the year.

Two cute, and much, much smaller, girls in a boot tray.

Pics..Each fixture has both a “warm” light bulb and a “cold” light bulb.  This doesn’t refer to the heat coming off the fixtures – this means that one has more blue coming out of it and one has more red.  The bulbs each give something to the plants and the plants need both ends of the spectrum to thrive.

I don’t get to plant out until mid-May at the earliest, so while I’m biding my time, albeit anxiously, I’m reliving past glory and trying not to make the same mistakes as previous years, wherein I started things in oh…February. These very early starts tended not to do so well – ok, excepting the 65 tomato plants (I had some little helpers spreading a lot of seed, lol).  The tomato plants that year ended up with blossom end rot, so it’s a good thing we had all of those plants – we actually got a few tomatoes!!!

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Where for art thou, oh my potato brush?

Potato brushes.  Everyone’s seen them and they’re in every grocery store in the continental US and Canada, right?

Sigh.  So I thought too.  But the lowly potato brush is nowhere to be found.  No grocery store in town has them.  Nor the hardware stores.  Nor the drug store…yes, I did look in my quest.  It makes me sad, as my best beloved, das husband, has, grumble, used mine in a way not intentioned by the manufacturers, and flattened most of the exterior bristles.  (This, IRL, is where I grimace, frown and scowl.)  He seems to have been in the one percent who had never seen a potato brush.  I know not how I will easily scrub the potatoes that I’ve grown without one.  I am wroth, cross and irritated that these once, ridiculously common brushes are no where to be found.

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