Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Squash . . . Yes, You Can Can It!!!

Please, please be very careful about getting your information to correctly can things. I have been doing some research and some experimenting with all that lovely summer squash our garden is producing so prolifically.

You can use this method for yellow squash as shown or for zucchini. . . 

In the past I have dehydrated it (not my favorite because it loses too much flavor to me) and freezing it (also not my favorite since the water separates from it).

There are many dangerous methods of canning and preserving on the internet. Here is what I have discovered is the safest and best way to can it. You can do the little yellow crookneck summer squash or zucchini using this method.

Wash and cut the squash into the shape and size you desire. Bring it to a boil with not quite enough water to cover it. (I first tried it without precooking and it cooked down in the pressure canner and so I ended up with jars not filled to the headspace). The jar below on the left was not precooked. 

Prepare your jars, add one teaspoon of Kosher or canning/pickling salt per quart and one half teaspoon for pints. Do NOT use table salt for any canning. Fill the jars leaving about an inch of headspace. If you need to add more water to cover it, please do.

Wipe the rims and place the lids and rings tightly on the jars. Pressure can at TEN POUNDS of pressure for a minimum of FORTY MINUTES. Squash are a low acid food and you want to be sure that they are safe to eat.

I'm looking forward to making some Squash Casseroles and Squash Bread this winter though our favorite way to eat it is still fried like this: Dice 3 or 4 slices of bacon and fry until crispy. Remove the bacon and add one sliced onion. Saute for a minute or two and then add one quart of drained squash. No need to salt but you can season it with pepper or other spices to taste. When it is thoroughly heated and browning well, add the reserved diced crispy bacon and serve immediately.

Squash Casserole! Much of my store of canned squash will go toward making this yummy concoction... 

2 cups summer squash (I'll use one of my pint jars, drained... or maybe two!)
1/2 chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 beaten egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheese
8 ounces seasoned stuffing mix
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix ingredients together and bake in a 9x13 baking dish at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until onions are tender. Sometimes I add shredded carrots to the mix, just to change it up a little. Delicious!

Or... maybe I'll try a new recipe, like Summer Squash Bread...

3 eggs, beaten
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded summer squash (I'm thinking one of my canned pint jars, drained well)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, grease 9x13 baking dish. In large bowl, using an electric mixer to beat the eggs until fluffy, beat in sugar, oil, and vanilla. Gradually mix in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg, fold in squash. Transfer to prepared baking pan. Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Emergency Candles from Used or Rancid Oils & Fats

Emergency Candles from Used or Rancid Oils & Fats 

No matter where we live in this great country, emergencies happen. The power goes out and winter or summer you may need light and a little heat. When we lived in Michigan each member of our family had one of these candles in the trunk of their car.  If you got stranded in a snow storm, you could light it and keep yourself warm inside the car. *(Never abandon your car in a snow storm). You can even use it to heat a can of soup.

This candle is easy to make and will burn for up to 48 hours.  It is made primarily from things you would throw away with the exception of a good wick. You can substitute a heavy thread or twine but experience has taught me that they do NOT burn as well as a good wick. You can buy them wherever you buy oil for lamps/candles/etc.

This one is an old coffee can but a 46 oz. juice can works equally as well. We don't drink coffee so I have friends save their coffee cans for me . . . 

You will also need old and used candles, crayons or paraffin
                              saw dust
                              a dowel, pencil or other similar item

Once you select your can, measure the wick to be just a bit longer than the height of the can. Attach one end of the wick to the bottom of the can with a thumbtack, bit of putty or any other creative way so that it will stay in or near the center. Attach the other end to the dowel, pencil, etc. and lay the dowel across the top of the can. 

Melt the wax (candles, crayons, etc.) slowly over low to medium heat. Watch it closely so it doesn't burn. Stir it occasionally until it is all melted. Stir in some saw dust (about half a can full) and before it begins to set up, pour it into the can keeping the wick as straight and centered as possible.

Let it set up (overnight is good) and then remove the dowel or whatever you used. You can do as I did and spray paint the exterior of the can if you wish. You can even add scent but make sure it is an oil since water-based scents will not emulsify with the wax.

Below is a link for directions to make 'Everlasting' Candles from Crisco. You can also use lard.
This is an excellent use for used (and filtered) shortening that has been used for frying or if for some reason you stored it too long and it turned rancid.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Canning Butter

Canning Butter

After doing a LOT of research, I believe there is a SAFE way to can butter for long term use. There is much information on the internet about canning butter in your oven. DO NOT buy into it as it will only keep for about 6 months and it is not safe. Various home canners have reported to me that they have tried that method and within 6 months, a thin layer of black mold begins to grow on the butter. Others have tried a BOILING WATER BATH with only a slight improvement in the product.

Butter is a LOW ACID food; therefore, it will only get hot enough to kill all bacteria in a pressure canner. I found a few people who have said they found satisfactory results with canned butter that was dated 1999, however it WAS pressure canned.

I experimented with three methods of preparation.  All methods require vigorous shaking of the butter as it cools to keep it from separating.

First, I did one jar by simply filling it with soft butter. That jar (it was brand new) broke in the canner. Perhaps I didn’t leave enough headspace. I don’t know . . . 

Second, I melted the butter and stirred it well before filling the jars. This appears to be a satisfactory method, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the texture is not as smooth as the third method.

Third, and preferably, I melted the butter and brought it to a boil in a large pan. Allow enough room for it to foam up within the pan.  I continued cooking it at a slow boil for a minimum of 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. The last thing we want is a burnt butter flavor.

Fill the jars leaving standard headspace. Be sure to stir the butter well and scoop up from the bottom of the pan. Wipe the rims and place the lids and rings on tightly. Pressure can for 10 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for ½ pints or pints.

After you remove the jars from the canner, allow them seal and to cool a bit before shaking them. Shake about every half hour until the butter begins to congeal. You may sit them in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

I assumed that I would need ½ pound of butter for each half pint, however, it required a bit less than that.  I ended up with two pints more than I had planned and still had an extra pound of butter left over. I had purchased 12 pounds of butter with the intention of ending up with 24 ½ pints. 

Butter was on sale at a good price ($1.99 per pound). Though I store butter in the freezer, I wanted some shelf stable butter as well. It’s great to take camping with you!

The next time I can butter, I plan to make some garlic butter and perhaps experiment with a few other herbs and spices as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pressure Canning Dried Beans, Baked Beans & more . . .

                                     (Before Processing)

Pressure Canning Dried Beans, Baked Beans and more . . .

Food prices are skyrocketing with no end in sight.  Storing dried beans long term is not always successful UNLESS you want to grind them into flour. They become so hard that no amount of cooking makes them tender.

My inventory of empty canning jars was good thanks to the severe drought this summer (our garden pretty much dried up).

You must use a pressure canner but the cost is much less, I can ‘de-gas’ them which is my biggest problem with buying them already canned and you can make them the way YOU want them. Have you checked the price of canned beans in the grocery store lately? They are rising at an alarming rate.

I just spent $17.88 on dried beans. Not counting the cost of new lids and the electricity required I now have:
4 quarts baby lima beans @ $.89 per quart
8 quarts of kidney beans @  $.62 per quart
2 quarts, 7 pints & 2 half pints of black beans @ $.195 per cup
6 quarts of baked beans (from navy beans) @  $.78 per quart (instructions to follow)
1 BONUS quart of mixed beans for soup or bean salad @ FREE!
1 BONUS 3 servings of  mixed beans for immediate use @ FREE!

The general process is easy.
Sort the beans and rinse. Cover with lots of water and bring to a rolling boil. Continue cooking for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse very well. (This will remove the gas and who would have thought it could be so easy!)

Place pickling or Kosher salt in the jars at 1 tsp. per quart or ½ tsp. per pint.

You may also add any other seasoning you would like. One friend adds 1 Tbs. per quart of taco seasoning for pinto beans, then mashes them after opening the jar. A favorite refried beans with NO ADDED FAT.

Fill the jars leaving a full one inch of headspace. Cover with water or brine (see below). Wipe the jar rims, seal, and pressure can at 10 lbs. of pressure:

75 minutes for pints
90 minutes for quarts

That’s it! It’s very easy and at quite a savings I would say even over sale prices!

PORK & BEANS – use tomato juice, 1 Tbs. sugar per quart and a piece of fatback, bacon or your preference to cover the beans with. Process as above.

BAKED BEANS – I made a ‘sauce’ of tomato juice (about 1 cup per quart), brown sugar, garlic powder, dehydrated onions, molasses, mustard, bacon (diced, fried and drained well) and a couple of drops of hickory smoke flavor per quart).
I don’t use measurements because everybody seems to have their own preference for baked beans. We prefer them a bit sweet and savory. You may use almost any baked bean recipes simply mix all the ingredients except the beans and pour over the pre-cooked beans. If you don’t have enough ‘sauce’ you may add more tomato juice or water.

I still plan to put up pinto beans, refried beans and garbanzo beans for making hummus and other things. Try this soon. I know you will be pleased with the tasteful result and the savings!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mosquito Repellents

Easing the Bite of those Pesky Mosquitoes 
 To control mosquitoes and
There are many remedies to prevent attack from mosquitoes . . . those pesky little critters who can make being outdoors miserable. 

At stores you will find many 'chemical' remedies to this problem but they abound with questions about whether or not they are good for us to inhale and frankly some of them seem to do a better job of attracting them than anything else.

I have tried many suggestions. Two that work for me are Skin So Soft bath oil from Avon. Just put it in a spray bottle and squirt liberally. It is a bit greasy and is terrible for your drains so I like this use better.

The second one is my preferred one: Listerine. I buy the generic for it at the Dollar Store and keep a small spray bottle handy. It works every bit as well as the Skin So Soft, but it does NOT leave that greasy feeling on skin and possibly stain clothing.

Here is a link to a homemade remedy for insect repellent. It may work really well . . . .

It seems a bit pricy to me when I consider how inexpensive a bottle of generic Listerine is, but suit yourself.

Hopefully, I will get back into regular posts . . . it's been a while, and I've been a little bit out of pocket but I'm anxious to start helping you get prepared for any possible disaster, store food (the price continues to rise - so everybody best be putting a little bit by), grow, produce and preserve some food, and a few other hints about how to stretch a dollar.

See you real soon!
 Mary Lou

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey Carcass Soups . . .Very Tasty!

To my followers I owe you an apology. I had planned to take pictures and make a couple of kinds of soup with my turkey carcass a key to the rich and tasty broths . . . HOWEVER, my dear husband shot a deer (an eight point buck) on Wednesday evening (while I was busy cooking for Thanksgiving dinner).

Needless to say, instead of making turkey soups the day after Thanksgiving, we spent the day instead processing venison. He skinned it out while I put up some Christmas decorations and made room in the kitchen for our project.

After a light lunch, he brought the sectioned deer into the kitchen and for the next six plus hours, we worked our tails off. I am including pictures of our bounty, and will include turkey soup recipes at the end of the post.

We now have in our freezer several steaks, a huge roast, eight packages of backstrap (tenderloin), twenty-five pounds of ground venison and a few steaks. The rest I canned and we ended up with seven quarts and eight pints of tasty, tender venison to add to our food storage. It is a tedious job to remove as much meat from the bones as possible (we cannot tolerate waste), our backs and feet hurt, but we are satisfied with our accomplishment.

Now for the soup! Remove most of the skin and any stuffing. Include the wing tips (and the wings and part of the thighs if they are not popular at your table). Break the bones apart so that they will fit into a large stockpot. Cover with water, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour. Remove the bones and any meat, fat or skin and let them cool enough to handle them comfortably. 

Strain the stock to remove any small bones or undesirables. You may now use the stock to make soup or store it in the freezer or can it (I pressure can mine).

Pick the meat from the bones. You will be amazed at what a good amount of meat you will get. Set it aside.

Here are my family's favorite turkey soup recipes:

Turkey & Rice Soup
 To the strained turkey broth add:
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 T. chicken bouillon or soup base
1 c. of rice (parboiled such as Uncle Ben's works best)
1 can of mushrooms
Cook until the vegetables are tender and the rice is done.
Add the turkey meat (coarsely chopped) and season with salt
and pepper to taste.

Turkey Noodle Soup
To the strained turkey stock add:
1 large onion, chopped 
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 T. chicken base or bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. fine egg noodles
Cook until the vegetables are tender and the noodles are done.
Add coarsely chopped turkey meat.

Turkey & Cabbage Soup
 To the strained turkey stock add:
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
1 T. chicken base or bouillon
Cook until vegetables are tender. 
Add coarsely chopped turkey meat.

Turkey Vegetable Soup
To the strained stock add:
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 quart tomatoes, diced
1 can (or pint) green beans
1 can whole kernel corn
Any other vegetables you and your family like including okra, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.
1 T. chicken base or bouillon
Salt & pepper to taste.
Cook until vegetables are tender.
Add turkey meat and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Save That Turkey Carcass!!!!

Don't throw out that turkey carcass after Thanksgiving dinner.
I will be posting AFTER Thanksgiving how to use that rack of bones to make some delicious soups!

After dinner on Thursday, remove the meat from the bones (yes, it's okay to leave a bit on them) and store it in the refrigerator. To make it easier to store the bones, separate them into smaller pieces and store in the refrigerator.

Every year, our family awaits the aroma and flavor of freshly made turkey soup . .  what is your favorite? Turkey and rice with mushrooms? Turkey noodle? Turkey vegetable? Whatever it is, it's easy to make and there is a LOT of flavor left! Stay tuned.