Monday, June 22, 2009

A giveaway!

I'm doing a giveaway. I'm giving away two copies of “Common Sense" This book is one of those books that will educate and enrage you about our country at the same time. It is a great jumping off point to figure out what is "wrong" with our country. Most of us feel in our gut that something is off, and this book explains it well. And it is NOT a rant against the left as both political sides are to blame here. It is based on the work of Thomas Paine and in his day seventy five percent of the American Public had read Common Sense. It is time to read it again. The original Common Sense is included in the book also.

Here is how to enter. Leave a comment on this blog and link back on your own blog to here. If you don't have a blog, link on your facebook page or twitter and leave the link in your comment. You can earn up to three entries per person. This giveaway closes Friday at 11:59 p.m. central time. I'll announce the winners on Saturday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Plans for the week

Thinking about adding more peaches. I'm just not sure that I have enough to get us through next summer. This is just the beginning of busy season, but I am really considering adding some more peaches.

I'm going to make some vanilla extract this week. It is so easy, throw some vanilla beans into some vodka and put into a jar. I'm doing 1 pint of extract and that should get me more than through the next year. It stays good forever too, so no worries.

Make a couple of logs of cookie dough for Christmas. Yup, I'm already thinking about Christmas. If I can get three logs of dough made I'm ahead of schedule. Since I've got a boatload of tomatoes coming ripe soon I need to stay on top of the holiday stuff so that I can actually enjoy it.

a window unit

We bought window air conditioners for our house this summer in an effort to reduce our energy usage. Window units in bedrooms only actually. They are energy star and cost very little to operate. Our electric bill was cut by half this past month.

We still use our central air, but keep the AC set at eighty during the day and off at night. It almost never kicks on before five in the afternoon and because of our big shade trees it stays around 75 most of the day.

We can set the window units at 73 at night, which is nice and cool and still keep our electric bill down! I'm loving this.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I just put up fifty six pounds of peaches.

Peaches are exhausting for a couple of reasons. First unless you have a peach tree you need to buy them in bulk and do them all at once. Second you need to peel and slice every single peach. Third, I had fifty six pounds of peaches, which translates to 41 pints.

But they are beautiful.

I also have peach butter in my crock pot cooking away slowly and will be ready to be canned tomorrow morning.

Peaches are done for me for the year. We love peaches, but this is enough to sustain us for this year. They are extra expensive this year because of a late frost, so we'll have to make do with a smaller quantity than I would like. I would actually like to double this amount.

But that doesn't mean I'm not staying busy this week! Vadilia onions are in season, which means I'm putting up sauteed onions! They are so great to have on hand to open a jar and top a steak or some chicken sausage! Also wonderful with potatoes.

More later on instructions for the peach butter and the onions!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The last of the spring carrots


I'm going to put some more in the ground at the end of next month, but for now, this is the end of the carrots. I didn't freeze any, we just ate them as they came out of the ground and they were amazing. Bright vibrant colors and sweet as sugar.


The blackberries kept me busy. Since other berries aren't happening this year, we are going to have our main stock of jam to get us through winter from blackberries. Thankfully we all love blackberries in our house. And a lucky side effect from four gallons of blackberries is pie too


But this post isn't about pie. This post is about jam and the thirty six half pints I've canned. I'm unsure if I'm adding more at this point or not.

If you don't have access to fresh blackberries you can also use frozen blackberries and still get great jam.


You start with your jam making process by picking over your berries and discarding any that aren't fully ripe. Blackberries must be black all over and even a tiny little red spot on a berry can cause the berry to be less sweet and slightly bitter. No amount of sugar is going to cover up that flavor either. Discard any berries that are unripe.

You need some pectin. I always use boxed powdered pectin. Making my own from green apples is a ton of work that isn't worth it to me. Jam is already a sometimes food since it is full of white sugar, so adding powdered pectin isn't a big deal. You will also need apx 9 half pint jars for this method.

First thing is you need to check your jars to make sure there are no chips, cracks, or other damage. You also need new lids and some rings (these can be used dozens of times) Lids must be new every time you process food because they can only form a proper vacuum seal one time. Wash all of these in hot soapy water and rinse well.

Next you need to bring some water to a boil in a canner or a very large pot that will cover the tops of the jars by at least 1 inch. This takes a while so you might want to bring the water to a boil ASAP. You also need another pot of very hot almost boiling water to keep your jars in to keep them sterile. And another of hot, but NOT boiling water to keep your lids and rings in.

Now for the fruit. You should have picked over and rinsed 2 quarts of fruit at this point. Mash the fruit with a potato masher 1 cup at a time.


You want to use a potato masher because if you puree it in your blender or food processor your jam will separate in the jars. 2 quarts will yield about 5 cups of mashed fruit. Bring that to a boil with your box of pectin. You need to boil this until it is at a full rolling boil, which means that it is still boiling all the way through as you stir it. While you are boiling this measure out seven cups of white sugar.


After your jam is at a full rolling boil add your sugar. Remember that this much sugar is not going to boil until well over 212 degrees so you need to be very careful as jam is VERY hot. You need to return the jam to a full rolling boil and boil for one minute after it reaches this stage. At this point you have jam, though it is very hot. You can put it in jars, put lids on it and freeze it. However you cannot store it on a shelf until you process it.

Ladle your jam into your sterile jars with a soup ladle and if you like a canning funnel (a funnel with a mouth that fits perfectly into a jar). After you jars are all filled put a lid and ring on each jar and tighten, but not to tightly as you still want air to be able to escape. You want the ring tight enough that it will hold the lid firmly in place, but loose enough that air can still escape.

Put in your boiling water canner and return the water to a boil for ten minutes. (Canning tongs are almost a requirement)

After your cans are out the lids will start to pop. You can hear them quite clearly. To check and make sure the jars were all processed correctly you should press down on the lid after the jars are cooled. If the lid still has give, then they haven't processed properly and need to go right in your refrigerator. If they have, mark them with the date and store in a dark cool pantry or shelf. They will last one year.

If you ever open a jar that sprays anything at you, smells off, or anything of the like do not eat it. Throw it away and use bleach on any surface that the food or juice may have touched. This is a bad jar.

After all this work (which only takes about 30 minutes active time) you'll be rewarded with delicious jam, and it is just beautiful!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I have blackberries!

I'll be making jam tomorrow and if the smalls cooperate I'll post tomorrow night!

And these blackberries are awesome and beautiful and I'm going picking again on Thursday, possibly Saturday and for sure on Tuesday.

So excited

Saturday, June 6, 2009


If you want to learn to properly can food I'll be documenting it this summer as I go through things. My first project will be blackberry jam. Home canning is easy, safe and inexpensive! I'll probably be canning in a few weeks and there are a few things you need if you want to follow along with me :)

1. Ball Blue Book. This is the bible of canning and every home canner needs one!
2. For Jam, pectin. You can make your own from green apples and yes that is a more natural way to jelly food, but I have no interest in that at this point in my life. Perhaps I'll learn how in the next few years, for now, I'll use the stuff you get at the grocery store in the canning aisle
3. Jars. Ball or mason jars. Clean, no cracks. Lids need to be new, rings can be used over and over again
4. Sugar. I have yet to use honey successfully in canning, so I have to use good old white sugar. No it isn't good for you, but oh well. I'm still working on using alternative sugars.
5. Fruit. Jams all work basically the same way, so whatever fruit you have you can use!


I want to get away for a weekend, but I don't think it is going to happen this year. The sailor won't have a chance to get away until late summer and I'll be in full preservation mode then! I won't be able to get away at that point.

I'm antsy for berries to come into season. No strawberries in the state this year, which is a bummer. But blackberries are in the next two weeks, followed quickly by blueberries, then I'll be busy nonstop with preservation.

I'm antsy to get started on it! I'm also trying to get the house in order as much as possible before the busy season starts. Because summer busy season goes straight until after Christmas before I can relax again.

Goodness, I'm tired thinking about it!