Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cooking with our Rendered Lard

Here it is, the very first item cooked in our recently rendered lard. It's potato pancakes, all nice and crunchy outside but beautifully light and soft inside, just perfect for melting cheese all over and dabbing on a bit of ketchup.

I can't say it was our healthiest meal- potato pancakes and SPAM! But it sure was a good one.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hey There Mister, Do You Have a Mop Refill?

Hey there Mister, do you have a mop refill?

You'd think this was a no-brainer, right? You sell a mop, you have the refills.
You sell the refills, you have the mop. Yep? Well, not so much.

I like the red mop with the stringy, floppy mop head but it really doesn't scrub so well, especially after canning when you might not have been as neat and tidy as you should have been. Plus, you have to replace the heads pretty often if you get into some messy jobs. My husband likes the green mop but wants a real sponge type head on it, not the cellulose kind. Also, I don't want added perks like brushes or strange stuff attached to it. So a standard mop it is.

Every time I get a mop they stop carrying the refills so I decided to buy the mop and oodles of refills, thinking that might be the smart thing to do. We went to a big box store, the kind where you can get groceries, clothes, camping equipment, swings and sandboxes all while you get your oil changed. They will have a mop, they have Everything.

Yes, they had a mop. Let's see, it was a $14 mop with $8 refills. Sorry, no deal. I can purchase a whole new $6 mop every time I need a refill and still be ahead of the game.

They had a nice squeeze mop with just the perfect head. But no refills. None, at all. They had a nice refill but guess what? No mop that fit the refill.

So, onto the discount dollar store, the national kind that carries name brand things. They will have a mop, they even have clothespin bags. And they did have mops, Mr. Clean mops, and a lot of them. But guess what? No refills, except for, like the first store, a really funky one that seems like it will break or at best not ring out well.

I even got "the guy" in charge of that department and he said, "No, no refills were shipped. I'm still waiting for them." This does me no good at all. What if I buy this great mop and they don't stock the refills? He handed me a string mop. Said this is what his mom used to use. I didn't get a mop.

Why can't I get a mop? Just a plain old mop where I can always find a refill. It doesn't seem to be too much to ask. It shouldn't be this hard. I guess I'll try KMART tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bug Out Bag Meals

I've been thinking about a light weight solution to emergency food rations should you have to leave your home for a few days in a hurry. We have a food dehydrator and a vacuum sealer. Why not combine the two for an easy to store, easy to pack food source that does not need refrigeration?

I made some seasoned zucchini chips, three kinds: garlic, plain salt and Montreal Steak. No, they don't taste like potato chips, but they are crunchy plus it's extremely good for you and creates a sense of fullness. They can be a good alternative to snack foods when you need a little something. I also dehydrated some heirloom tomatoes which, when finished, are completely flat but retain all the great heirloom flavor compacted into a little bite. The flavors explode in your mouth! Rich and sweet. They can also be used as a snack or thrown into your soups or crumbled onto breads or pizza. They are a good source of vitamin C. As strange as it may sound I am always concerned about scurvy- blame it on my history teachers as they discussed sea crossings!

The food dehydrator also makes pretty good jerky. We've used hamburger in the past but I'm sure you can change that up. Jerky in and of itself was always a good source of preserving food so why not incorporate it into my bug out bag? I've seen my granddaughter fill herself up with a few pieces of jerky. Just think how much meat you have eaten if it would be re hydrated. A little goes a long way.

Now what if you made a packet. I'd put in two or three pieces of jerky, some dehydrated vegetables: tomatoes, zukes, potato slices or peppers. Then I might add some raisins or other dried fruit. I might put these into small sandwich bags and then arrange those on the vacuum bag, just to keep it separate.

Once I'm done I would have a complete meal, ready to eat with the cut of the bag. They are so light I could pack two or three meals for each day I anticipate being gone. I don't have to lug around heavy cans or worry about how to heat them up.

I'd have my water purification cup, available at Wal-Mart or on-line. I hope I won't need to but just in case, I'll grab my bag and off we go.

What do you think? Would this work for you?

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Cucumber Bonanza Update

My husband told me he was bringing some cucumbers home from a friend's house since they had already put up 24 quarts of pickles, which would cover their needs until next year. Little did I know that I would find 70 lbs of cucumbers when I pulled into the garage!

WOO HOO! A Cucumber Bonanza !!!!!!

Tomorrow he plans to start chopping cucumbers and preparing the jars while I am off to work. He's picked out a few recipes from the Ball book, all pickles and relishes. I'm very lucky that he enjoys this, probably more than I do.

And guess what . . . . he CLEANS AS HE GOES! Double lucky I'd say.


Chopped up a half tub of cucumbers so far 25-30 lbs
Bread and Butter pickles- about a third of a turkey fryer pot. About 8 lbs.
Relish a full stock pot full - 2 gallons. It has used 22 lbs of vegetables so far.
Only 12 jars canned so far, it will take us awhile.

I found some cucumber bread/cucumber cake recipes that I will try and then freeze.

Anyone want a cucumber?

Honey Giveaway at Invited to the King's Table

HONEY giveaway at Invited to the King's Table

Take a stroll on over to Invited to the King's Table for a chance to enter the honey giveaway. You should see how pretty these jars are with a bit of the comb in them.

After you look at the honey post click on her banner to get to the most current post and then scroll down. She has some really pretty coasters and chicks that she made. It's a very nice blog. You might want to follow her!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Cucumber Bonanza-

My husband told me he was bringing some cucumbers home from a friend's house since they had already put up 24 quarts of pickles, which would cover their needs until next year. Little did I know that I would find 70 lbs of cucumbers when I pulled into the garage!

WOO HOO! A Cucumber Bonanza !!!!!!

Tomorrow he plans to start chopping cucumbers and preparing the jars while I am off to work. He's picked out a few recipes from the Ball book, all pickles and relishes. I'm very lucky that he enjoys this, probably more than I do.

And guess what . . . . he CLEANS AS HE GOES! Double lucky I'd say.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rendering Lard -

One of our challenges of the week was learning how to render lard. The price of Crisco is now about $6 or better for the 3 lb tub. We processed this for less than $1 per pound plus minimal electricity cost. Don't forget, Crisco is whipped so it's full of air which is why 3 lbs looks much, much larger than our jars which are dense- all lard, no air. We'd almost have to melt the Crisco to compare.

We started out with pig fat from our local butcher who is out on the backroads of our rural community. My husband cut it up and put it into the Nesco cooker since we didn't have the time to do it over an open fire.

It started as a 24 pound bag of fat and we still have almost all of it left after making two jars of lard which is a total of about 4-5 pounds. The rest is in the freezer waiting for the next rendering.

After cooking down for six or seven hours, about 325 degrees, the fat cooks out of the material that is not completely fat. It's called cracklings. You scoop out the cracklings once they start sinking to the bottom then strain the fat through cheese cloth.

These are sort of like pork rinds but they are not the skin. I don't care for them at all but we thought we'd see what would happen if we fried them.

They are done but not so good- the kitties, opossums and probably a raccoon or two had dinner.

We put the rendered fat into canning jars to cool. We'll keep this in the fridge so we didn't can it. I thought it could keep the dehydrated zucchini chips and tomatoes company. The zucchini chips were dried with a variety of seasonings: one with pure salt, one with garlic and the last with Montreal Steak seasoning.

Once cooled, it looks just like Crisco, but better for you believe it or not.

According to Nourished Kitchen:
Pastured lard is a remarkably good source of vitamin D and of monounsaturated fat – the same fatty acid found in olive oil and avocado that is heralded for its benefits to cardiovascular health. Odd that lard, given its fatty acid profile and vitamin content, earned such a bad rap over the last few decades. Like many wholesome, nourishing fats, lard seems to have been swept aside for a time, but it’s quickly earning a much-deserved renaissance – ensuring that taking the time to learn how to render lard is worth your effort both in terms of its redeeming nutritional value as well as in celebration of the wealth and variety of your local foodshed.

My husband is excited about our Homestead Challenges. He's ready to bake a pie, make some biscuits and fry some chicken. Sounds like a good meal is on the horizon!

Giveaway Over at Sparing Change- Check it Out

Sparing Change Giveaway

Giveaway: Your Choice of 4" x 6" Sign

Run on over to Sparing Change for this great giveaway! While you're there, check out the 25 Weeks Till Christmas section for some great ideas. I personally love the sachets.

Good Luck on the Giveaway!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

She Has Him Right In the Palm of Her Hand

I always knew my granddaughter had her Pops right in the palm of her hand and here's the proof! We were going to go out on the jon boat but woke up to stormy skies. It wasn't long after the big clap of thunder that we hear a little voice from upstairs shouting, "Grandma? Pops? !!!!" (Pops is my husband) click photo to enlarge

Finally the storm let up, the sun came out and off to the park we went, fishing poles, worms and Straw-Nana Bug Juice in hand. We baited up Taylor's hook on her new light spinning rod and the fishing began. It wasn't long before she had her first bite, and she hooked it!

It's a nice little pond, easy access and full of small hungry sunfish eager to pounce as soon as a worm hits the water. This is her first spinning rod, using a basic princess Zebco reel up until now, so there was a short tutorial on the new method of casting. Aside from a few tangles she was soon pretty good, holding her own as the girls beat the guy with fish caught. Of course Grandma Kathy (or the Katinator as I now call myself) could pick out just the right spot. Suddenly EVERYONE was fishing MY SPOT! LOL

Taylor can be little princess (at first glance) but she's all tomboy underneath! She was the official Worm Girl cutting off bits and pieces to conserve our bait. We treat her like a person, not a girl, so she can be well rounded and skilled in a variety of areas.

It might be a nice day in the park to her but she's really learning patience, hand-eye coordination and survival practices. She has a Bear Scout bow, her Shakespeare fishing pole, a Daisy BB gun and her treasured pocket knife. She knows how to use them and respects what they can do so there is no misuse - and always with adult supervision.

She'll grow up having fun, experiencing camping, fishing, hunting and boating. She'll also know how to style her hair, makeup and what shoes compliment her pretty dress. She'll be able to cook venison over an open fire as well as baking the perfect chocolate cake. A well rounded person. And, to borrow a line from a country song, she thinks she just fishing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peeking Pumpkins

I have been waiting all season for these little guys to turn orange and here they are peeking out at me! I've been on pins and needles hoping that they would survive the squash bugs so my little granddaughter, Taylor, would have a chance to pick one all by herself, right out of her garden.

Here's another one! So far three kids get pumpkins!

And yet a fourth! I think there are a couple more tucked under vines and leaves. They are all very small and mostly volunteers from my nephew's tossed out pumpkin that ended up in the mulch pile. I planted some seeds too so I'm not sure which plants these belong to.

I love fall- my very favorite season-Beautiful colors, cool nights to sit by the bonfire and roast marshmallows and drinking apple cider at fall festivals.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lunch for Two Weeks $2.37

How can I cut down on my lunch expense, when I work outside the home? I typically pick up lots of those frozen dinners when they are on sale for $1.98 then pop them in the freezer for use as needed. I don't purchase lunch at the office cafeteria very often, in fact seldom ever. Although subsidized, the typical wrap with chips OR soda is $6, a plain sandwich $4, then add the drink or chips. No, I won't pay $30 or better each week for lunch.

I thought it was a bargain at $10 until we discovered bonesless, skinless prepackaged, name brand chicken breasts at SaveALot, $2.37 for three breasts. We have chickens but we don't raise these for meat, not yet at least, so we typically purchase a hog or half cow from friends or the butcher and then fill in with chicken or lately, deer.

I thought why not cook all three of these breasts, seasoned with garlic and Montreal Steak in a little bacon grease. I chopped them up in bite sized pieces portioned them into individual servings double wrapped in baggies and then sealed all the baggies into a freezer bag. I'm not a big meat eater so these three breasts will cover me for 10 days, or two weeks of lunch. Each portion costs me about $0.24 plus the minimal costs of seasoning and cheap baggies.

Supplement it with some sliced peaches or fresh vegetables and there you have it, lunch on less than $1.50 per day and it isn't frozen and full of sodium. Plus it has meat. My frozen dinners were pasta with broccoli or cheese, no meat at all. Now this has to be much healthier.

Now, what about dinner?

My husband cooked up some mostacholi sauce today using deer meat he was given by a neighbor. We had purchased canned goods a few years ago (remember, expiration dates are suggestions, a best by date). The entire crock pot of sauce probably cost less than $3. The deer meat has almost no fat and cooks up tender as a mother's love plus it shredded beautifully.

We cooked some rigatoni noodles and topped them with the sauce. We had a little garlic bread on the side as well. We used only a portion of the sauce, under $1 for the two of us so dinner today was $3 or less. A little more if you enjoy a side salad.

He will put the remainder of the sauce in bowls, placing them in the freezer just until firm and holds it shape. Remove it from the freezer and pop it out of the bowl. With our vacuum sealer we will be able to package up an individual day's serving of sauce for two. Then back into the freezer for longer term storage or until one has a yearning for mostacholi or spaghetti.

There are times where we lose sight of meat in our large deep freezer only to discover it later all freezer burnt. It makes a good day for the cats but to us it's throwing money out the door. My friend recently tossed out a $17 roast after finding it too freezer burnt to even stew. From now on we will purchase in quantity when we find a good sale and portion it in the vacuum bags. My neighbor has many other great ideas on using the vacuum sealer so I'll be pumping her for information in the days to come!

Frugal and prepared.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crushed or Cubed?

Would you like crushed or cubed? What a wonderful choice we have for our soda, tea or fancy frozen adult drinks all with a push of button on the refrigerator door; however, this was not always the case. Cubed ice was a luxury in most homes until the 40s when prices for modern refrigeration were within reach of the post war household. Until that time many homes used an insulated ice box where food was cooled using a large block of ice, delivered by an ice man who would come by in his horse drawn cart. The ice would have to be chipped by hand if you wanted to enjoy a nice cold drink.

This ice box was owned by my husband's great aunt. I use it in the garage to store my gardening supplies, for now. The block of ice would be placed in the top left compartment.

It even has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, complete with instructions for use. You can see from the inside (you will just have to excuse the mess) that there is not much room for the amount of food we are used to today. If there is ever a time when I need to use something like this for my refrigeration, I'm set. But what about the cubes?

This brings me back to the original photo. The ice crusher pictured above sat on my grandmother's porch for decades, holding small gardening tools so she could do some light weeding or plant pretty flowers. After she died we took it to our house, where it sits on our porch although without gardening tools in the hopper. She would be pleased.

"Selden Gladwin North established a foundry in Philadelphia in 1878. His brother, Ralph, joined the company in 1880, and the company became North Brothers. The name was changed to North Brothers Manufacturing Co. in 1887. The company made ice-cream makers, egg beaters, meat cutters, tobacco cutters and other metal items. By 1910 it was making screwdrivers, drills, braces and other tools. North Brothers Manufacturing Co. was sold to The Stanley Works in 1946:

The 1934 ad for #106 reads : "with flywheel for homes, restaurants, clubs, where larger amount of chipped ice is wanted. Hopper (3 7/8 x 4 1/2 inches), takes block ice, or six to a dozen ice cubes. Price $9.75."

ice ad link
ice history link
patent link 1931

Friday, August 12, 2011

How To Do Things 1919 - The Farm Journal

One of the best methods of learning the old way and becoming more self sustainable is to go to the source. This interesting book, How To Do Things, was published by Wilmer Atkinson Company out of Philadelphia, copyright 1919. It is composed of popular articles that appeared in The Farm Journal which began publication in 1877.

Here I can find helpful hints and how to make things we take for granted today, all supplied by the experts of the time. The index alone is 31 pages, everything from how to pick apples to creating an emergency wrench.

It is 572 pages, every one full of short, helpful hints. I can learn to make a tail tie for a cow, in fact, three different ways. I have instructions for various outdoor games and church or school entertainments, how to make a variety of coops or how to hang wall paper. There is a section on how to butcher and cure meats, recipes for crackers, cakes and chowders.

If I want to design or remodel a house, it's all right here!

Would we really use this information someday? You betcha!

This book is still available today on Amazon if anyone is interested. Good reading!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

White Stink Bugs? Dead Zukes- SQUASH BUGS!

In a matter of days my zucchini are yellowing, wilting and falling to the ground. I thought the heat was getting to my them until I started moving the vines around. There you have it, stink bugs! But what is this? White stink bugs, some sort of powdery and most much smaller than the brown ones? I have plenty of zukes so the loss isn't tragic but I need to get rid of these bugs so I can replant for fall.

They are moving too fast to get a photo but I'm calling on all of you- white stink bugs? Any ideas on how to kill them? I'm forced to use chemicals at this point- a total invasion.

Added: These are squash bugs- thank you. The control link said they are hard to kill- see the comment boxes.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Making Vinegar

We're following along with another blogger's vinegar making instructions! This is exciting, I've never made vinegar before.

First, we cut up some older apples. Then added 1/4 cup of sugar to a quart of water, stirring until dissolved.

We added the apples to the sugar water.

Now we cover it and let it sit at room temperature (between 73-82 degrees) for about a week. After that we will strain it and put that liquid back into the container, covering it again and allowing it to sit a few weeks, stirring daily. At the end we'll strain and bottle it.

If you have suggestions, let me know and wish us luck!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Winding Down, Gearing Up

Our zucchini plants are starting to wind down the season, suffering through the last month of super hot temperatures and minimal rain. We have at least a dozen bags of frozen shredded zucchini in two cup increments which should give us plenty for the winter along with the jars of relish we made. Thanks to another blogger's suggestion we dehydrated the last zucchini but mixed up the topping with a combination of salt and Tony's Cajun seasoning for a little zing.

This is the first of the canned tomatoes. We planted heirloom varieties that don't have much shelf life so frequent canning is important. The little raccoons have decided to invade them as well as the corn (and flowers!) so we pick them as quickly as possible even if they have to sit a couple of days to deepen their color, although they are not supposed to be all dark red but a rainbow of reds to purple. We'll do some whole but other will be seeded or made into a sauce.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Digging Raccoons

It took only a brief second or two, in fact, I wondered what the commotion was all about. I was right there, in fact, I had just walked across the porch, down the steps and over to the hose bib that is in the corner of the planter bed. Giant lizards scurried about, sometimes startling you. Really, you would think they were mice by the sound of them.

When I reached down to turn on the water, I heard the noise. "What's that?" I wondered, "It sounds like metal hitting the porch." I shook my head and carried on. We have a few stray cats, they must have been chasing each other . . . but in this heat?

Well, I went about my business. I watered the hosta and coleus bed next to the porch and then onto the potted plants: tomatoes, peppers, herbs. Hey wait! Why is a pepper plant uprooted and laying across the planter? Hmmmm. No matter, it wasn't doing very well anyway.

The bushes were next and a few young zinnias that were beginning to bloom in the retaining wall bed. Oh oh- weeds, the vining variety- I need to get in there as soon as this sprained foot will allow it! (and the wasps, don't forget about them too- hiding out under all my bedding plants).

I made my way around the court yard until I came back to the porch. Time to fill up the cat water dish and hit the porch plants with a little water. It's so hot that even they, under the shade of a 9 ft deep porch with ceiling fans on, droop every day.

"What the heck!" I said aloud. "What happened here?" I know what the metal sound was, this is all starting to make sense. Those raccoons got my coleus on the porch! They don't want the plant but apparently whatever they believe is beneath the leaves way down in the dirt. I had a metal dragonfly stake, a very pretty little garden decoration, in the middle of the pot with all the pretty leaves surrounding it. Guess where it is now? Yep, on the deck. On the deck amid half a pot of dirt and various coleus plants, some painfully damaged. I guess they got my pepper too. And of course they had a dance party in the cornstalks growing in the big garden.

I scooped everything back into the pot and over watered, hoping for the best. Since I caught it so soon I believe most of the plants will be OK, but one was still touching the ground awhile later.

With this heat, lack of rain, the horn worms, grasshoppers and raccoons the garden has suffered greatly. The cucumbers and zucchini are about done, although we had a great harvest. Beans and tomatoes are still growing, along with the pumpkins; however, the peppers have done nothing.

Our tomatoes are ripening but slowly, many staying green. This is some type of problem that Missouri is having. We planted heirloom varieties so it may not be affecting us as much as the hybrids out there, but they are definitely slow this year. I'm glad to have all those green tomato recipes I've seen on the blogs lately.

Back to the raccons digging in my plants. What are they looking for?