Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bean Soup with & without Ham :)

My daughter is a vegetarian so I make this soup with & without ham.  I tweeked the original recipe from the Ball Blue Book. I doubled the amount of spices from the original recipe.  Doubling gave it the flavors I was looking for.  I was unable to find summer savory so I used thyme instead.  I added carrots too. I also added more salt to the batch that didn't have ham in it.  I may add potatoes next time.

Makes about 6-7 quarts

Ham & Bean Soup
1/2 c dried black beans
1/2 c dried kidney beans
1/2 c dried navy beans
1/2 c dried pinto beans
1/2 c dried Great Northern Beans
1/2 c dried blackeye peas
1/2 c dried split peas
1/2 c dried chick peas
1/2 c dried lentils
8 carrots cut into bite size pieces
4 bay leaves
2 T tarragon
2 T thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Approximately 2 1/2 pounds ham steak cut into bite size pieces. I added the bone while boiling too.
**If not adding ham I add 4 vegtable bullion cubes

Put dries beans in large dutch oven or stock pot, add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to boil, boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat & let beans soak for 1 hour. Drain beans in colander, return to pot add water to cover by 2 to 3 inches.  Add ham & spices. Bring to a boil, cover and boil 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf & ham bone.

Ladle hot soup into hot jars leaving 1 inch head space. Remove air bubbles wipe off rim & apply 2 piece lids. Process 1 hour 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Honey Lavender Lemon Jelly

I bought some dried lavender from the farmers market because I wanted to make tea with it.  I kept forgetting to make it. 

One day while making coffee I seen the dried lavender in the cabinet,  next to honey.  I thought, I should make honey lavender jelly.

  After searching the internet for a recipe I finally found one I liked. Of course I made a few adjustments.   I used a very dark amber honey, next time I will either use a light amber honey or add more lemon zest.  Don't get me wrong, this jelly is the bomb as is. I just feel the dark amber honey is over powering the lemon.  Which makes me laugh because I almost omitted the lemon zest.

Honey Lemon Lavender Jelly

2 cups honey
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 cups water
1/4 cup dried lavender
3 oz. liquid pectin

Bring the water and lavender to a boil, cover with a lid. Lower heat, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and steep for 1 hour to overnight.

Strain and measure 1/2 cup of the lavender brew, and place in a tall pot. Add honey, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest to your preserving pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in pectin, and continue to stir frequently until it reaches a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard for one minute

Remove from heat and stir. Pour the jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.Wipe the rims, and seal the jar. Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes. Makes 2 pints.

Monday, September 1, 2014

More Jalapeños

The veggies are starting to wind down, I feel like they just got started. It's been a crazy summer. Snow in May & 80° the next day, rain, rain & more rain. We didn't really hat too many hot days, not that I'm complaining.

I had more tomatoes that we could eat (in a few days) and what seems to be the last of the jalapeños & sweet heat peppers. I decided I would make salsa. I did have to buy onions, mine didn't do so well.  I forgot to plant cilantro so I had to buy that too.

1 cup chopped peppers
1 cup chopped & deseeded tomatoes
1 small onion chopped
1/4 cup cilantro chopped
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of cumin

I simmered all ingredients for 10 minutes, spoined into prepared canning jars and processed in the water bath for 15 minutes.

I think I will add a bit of minced garlic to the next batch. I still have some tomatoes but the peppers are just about done.  I think just 1 or 2 more are growing.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Say what? Corn Cob Jelly?!?!

I think I have finally figured out the trick to making jelly after some flops.  You need to use a deep pot, a thermometer and gloves and/or long sleeves are helpful too.  The temperature needs to brought up to 220°  I'm not exactly sure if it got up to that, I didn't have gloves or long sleeves, I was using to pot lid as a shield from the bubbling,  splattering jelly. Any way it jelled just great.

Corn Cob Jelly, no it doesn't taste like corn. It kinda has a honey taste.

This was my first time growing corn. It did ok, the ears were small, too small to eat on the cob. 
So I blanched the corn for about 4-5 minutes, removed the corn from the cobs and froze it.

12 ears of corn
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 box of pectin
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
5 half pint jelly jars

Put the cobs back in the water and simmer them for at least 1/2 hour. The longer you simmer the more flavor you'll get from the cobs. You will need 3 1/2 cups of liquid. Add more water & simmer again if you don't have enough.

You can strain the liquid or leave the bits of corn in.
Bring corn liquid and lemon juice to a boil, add sugar return to boil for 5 minutes, add pectin & boil hard for 1 minute.

Variations I made to the recipe.
I did add 2 more tablespoons of pectin
I used apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, I was in a pinch, the kids used the lemon juice to make lemonade :)
I pureed the little bits of corn and added it to the corn liquid

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Peach Butter

I've never had Peach Butter before, I've had Apple Butter and I love it so I thought I try makig Peach Butter.

4 1/2 pounds of peaches
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

I blanched the peaches for 40 to 60 seconds.
Gave them an ice water bath for 1 minute, then peeled the skins
I then quarters the peaches, put them in a pot with about 1/2 cup water and simmered them until soft. Into the food processor next,  processed until mushy but not liquid.
Back into the pot with the sugar & cinnamon,  boil HARD until desired consistency.

Filled my prepared jars leaving 1/2 inch head space and processed for 10 minutes in the water bath canner.

It is Delicious.  I may use less cinnamon next time or none at all.

Right after taking taking this pic I dropped my phone into the pot! Completely submerged!  Guess what? It still works!

Jalapeños part 2

My love for jalapeños continues.  The actual recipe is called Jalapeño Jelly but I call it jam, there are pieces jalapeños in it because I do not strain it. 

I will be making a pepper jam next.  I have sweet heat, jalapeños & green peppers that are ripe.  Mom has some banana peppers that I'll put in too.  

Stay tuned for my next jelly, you won't believe what the main ingredient is!

Jalapeño Jam

Here's the Ball Canning recipe I used.

I highly recommend you wear gloves when handling the peppers.

12 oz jalapeño peppers (about 12 med)
2 cups cider vinegar, divided
6 cups sugar
2 3-oz pouches of Ball® RealFruit™ Liquid Pectin 

Green food coloring, optional

5 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

DIRECTIONS:PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use. Do not boil. Set bands & lids aside.
PURÉE peppers in food processor or blender with 1 cup cider vinegar until smooth. Do not strain purée.
COMBINE purée with remaining 1 cup cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
ADD Ball® RealFruit® Liquid Pectin, immediately squeezing entire contents from pouches. Continue to boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add food coloring, if using, and skim foam if necessary.
LADLE hot jalapeno jelly into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Jalapeño Smoothie anyone???
Cowboy Candy on left, Jalapeño Jam on right


I love hot peppers, they really don't love me though.  I will usually keep eatin' em even though my nose is running, my eyes are running & my mouth is on fire.

I made two different Jalapeño "snacks"  first was Cowboy Candy 

3 pounds fresh jalapenos

2 cups apple cider vinegar

6 cups granulated sugar

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon celery seed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1. I highly recommended you wear gloves!   Remove stems from all of the jalapenos and slice 1/8 inch thich or so. I used my mandoline slicer.  Love that thing.  Set aside.

2. In a large pot, bring the cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Add the pepper slices and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Use a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers into clean sterile canning jars leaving ¼ inch at the top of the jar.

5. Turn up the heat and bring the syrup to a full rolling boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Pour the syrup over the jalapeno peppers in the jars but still leaving ¼ inch from the top. Make sure there are no air pockets by sliding a plastic utensil down the inside of the jars. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, dampened with vinegar cloth and place lids & rings on the jars.

6. You are now ready to process in a water bath for 10 minutes for pints.  Or you can just refrigerate them. 

7. The hardest step of all....let them sit for 2 weeks to let the flavors blend.

3 pounds of Jalapeños
Apple Cider vinegar, crushed red pepper, minced garlic, turmeric, celery seed and sugar, lots of sugar
Simmering. Diffinalty cleared out the sinuses

Jalapeño Jam coming soon.....
Cowboy Candy on left, Jalapeño Jam on right

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Best Ever Bread & Butter Pickles

4 qts. Thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
8 thinly sliced onions about 3-4 cups
1/3 cup salt
2 1/2 cups vinegar
4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons mustard seed

Make sure cukes are well washed and scrubbed. Sprinkle cukes & onions with salt, add ice cubes, cover weighte5 down for 3-6 hours. Drain, mix sugar, spices & vinegar. Boil for 30 seconds. Fill jars and seal. Process 10 per pint.

Of course I never follow a recipe, I just can't do it lol

I salted the cukes & onions at night, added enough ice to cover, put a pie plate on top & put them in the fridge over night. The sat for 10-12 hours.
I did have a little bit of mustard seed left after adding the 2 T so of course I added it :)

I can't believe no one ever told me to get a mandoline slicer! I hate cutting veggies & I zipped through these cukes & onions in no time
Water Bath
Yay! All seals popped

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Cucumber Experiment part 2... Pickles and More!

The cucumbers planted in the ground have made a mockery of the cucumbers in a container.  In all fairness the chickens have really fertilized that area.
The carrots, cantaloupe and herbs are doing well in this area too.

Since I have cucumbers coming out of my ears I decided to make pickles.  My dill I planted in a container is not well so I made Bread & Butter pickles.  I thought the recipe I was using was for "Refrigerator" pickles. I looked at so many different recipes. Well it wasn't. I'm going to let them set for a day before I try them. I hope they're good!

I also planted some radish seeds today, so in about 5 weeks I'll have radishes.

I didn't plant any beans this year but Mom did. She gave me a bunch of them. I blanched most them and froze 'em. The rest we'll have with dinner tonight.

Crazy Cucumber Plant
Tri colored beans. The purple ones turned bright green when cooked
Started radishes today

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chicks hatching :)

Silkie Bantam Chicks Hatching - MnKHarden:

This was from the first hatch I ever did. I just got a notification that it has been viewed 100 times on YouTube! I feel like a celebrity lol

Dreams do come true...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Homemade Mayonnaise, I can't believe it turned out

I've been wanting to make mayonnaise for awhile now. It was pretty easy and I really can't believe it turned out.

Whisk an egg yolk with 1/4 teaspoon each salt, paprika, ground mustard & 1/2 teaspoon vinegar. I will up the amount of spices next time. 3/4 cup olive oil will be whisked in too

Gradually add no more than 1/2 teaspoon of oil and whisk until blended.  This took FOREVER  I was proud of myself for not just dumping the oil in. I definitely lack patience when it comes to stuff like that.

It's  only good for a few days  since our eggs are not pasteurized, and there isn't anything artificial in it, and I'm OK with that :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flowers :)

While at the garden center several weeks ago I over heard a young women talking about some of the vegetable plants and their flowers, "what kind of flowers do these get" she asks. I rolled my eyes and thought silly girl these are vegtables they're not pretty.

I have pretty much given up on flowers in my backyard, the chickens just tear them up. (With the exception of a few around the pond)

As it turns out I'm the silly one. There is beauty in all flowers, you just have to look for it. They may not last long, some only a day...hmmm sound familiar... the Day Lilies that I love so. Chickens love them too. They wiped out a 10 foot row in a day!

Cucumbers, Corn and Eggplants

Green Leaf Lettuce,  Potatoes,  and Peas

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Cucumber Experiment

I found a nice page if someone is interested in container gardening. It's got just enough info to get you started but it's not overwhelming.   Just remember, the containers dry out quicker than if planted in the ground, so more watering will be required.

Here it is

I did a little experiment with cucumbers.  I planted 1 in a container and 1 in the ground. They are the same variety and were planted the same day and are right next to each other. The one in the ground seems to be growing better although neither have produced cucumbers yet.

The Cucumber Experiment :)
The carrots & cantaloupe are starting to grow! We had lots of rain and hot weather. Just what they needed!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The graden is growing. Maybe I should say expanding

I added a few more things to the veggie garden. I am officially out of room. I planted carrots and cantaloupe in the flower bed :)  I gave up on flowers because the chickens just tear them up.  I put some plastic chicken wire over the area were I planted the carrots and cantaloupe to keep the chickens (and wild bunnies) out. Once the carrots are harvested I'll plant radishes!

I think I'm going to do some raised beds next year.  I'll have to do some research. Most of the yard is a septic field and I'm not sure if I can put anything on top of it.

I would love to grow watermelon, pumpkins strawberries, and asparagus. And more corn :) 

I think I need a mini greenhouse too!

Hope this keeps the chickens out of the carrots

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Here a Chick There a Chick Everywhere a Chick Chick

The Silkies have hatched one chick so far. I decided to separate momma & baby since it didn't work out last time. The mean nasty broody Silkie is sitting on the rest of the eggs. Mostly because I knew I would be able to move the "nicer" one.

The peeping of a baby must have triggered something in one of the older chickens because she too decided she wanted to sit on eggs.  Hailey was on chicken duty and was worried when she wouldn't come in to roost. She was even shaking the can of treats. She was smart enough to let her be. A broody hen can be nasty.  (I train my Mini Me Chicken Keepers well) 

A new chicken joined the flock last week. Her name is Reba. She is super sweet & loves people.  She wasn't being a nice girl to her previous flock mates so a friend asked if I would take her.  At this point what's one more chicken :)  

She spends the night with the "Original" Chickens. When the others go out to their big run she follows me around while I feed & water everyone else. she spends the day in the smaller run because the others gang up on her.  I thought about letting her free range but my neighbor reminded me about the cute fox that sits in their yard watching the chickens through our fence.  And yes a fox can climb my 6 foot fence in a blink of an eye.

It is so cute when Mama talks to her chick.
Reba "Helping" me fill feeders

Monday, May 26, 2014

Not So Green Thumb Gardening

Straw bale gardening worked well for me last year so I figured I'd do it again. I also planted in containers & in the ground.

I use straw bales in the winter to help insulate & block wind around my chicken coops. While the bales are in the runs the chickens sit on them & poop, this helps to fertilize & break down the bales. 

I just make a little hole add I bit of dirt and put the plant in.  I really like using the bales because there are hardly any weeds.  It is also a good hight for me to kneel at without hurting my back.

In the bales I planted tomatoes, brussel sprouts, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, jalapeños, bell peppers & a mystery veggie - I don't know how I ended up with it but it was in my cart & I bought it. 

Everything is growing well even though it snowed last week.   I did have some bugs munching on the brussel sprouts so I made a mixture of garlic, cayenne pepper & water to spray on the plants. That seemed to do the trick. 

I also planted potatoes in a bag.  As the greens grow I'll add more dirt.  I've never tried to grow potatoes. I hope they do well.

This is the 2nd year trying onions. They didn't do so well last year, they just didn't grow very big. I have them in a container again, we'll see what happens. 

I have some "Bush Cucumbers" in a container & in the ground.  The first cucumber plants I got didn't survive the May snow :-/

Last year I bought a hanging container that had beans in it. I reused it this year and put peas in it.

I also planted sweet corn, can't wait for that :)

My raspberries look like the have tripled from last year.  I wonder it I'll get enough to make jam?

My walmart peach tree looks like its growing well, not sure how mature it needs to be before it starts producing peaches though.

Potatoes in a bag
I had to put tomato cages around the corn so the chickens wouldn't stomp on it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sebago's New Barn

Sebago moved to a new barn March 1st. He has made many new friends.  He really likes the mares :) 

We have found a wonderful bunch of horsepeople and re found Parelli Natural Horsemanship. I have been learning so much from them. We even participated in  Parelli Workshop with Jake Biernbaum.  What a wonderful experience that was. Who would have thought you could learn something by going in circles.

Hickory (left) and Sebago 
in the areana
Prince, Lili & Sebago