Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bone Tired And Ready For First Day's Welcome Rest

The title really sums it up, we're bone tired and ready for the rest that tomorrow brings! The 26th and 27th were the last days this month for planting crops that bear above ground so we p-u-s-h-e-d to get everything in the ground. All together the gardens are about an acre to an acre and a half. We planted these bean varieties (all heirloom, open pollinated): Soldier, Mayflower, Jacob's Cattle, Appaloosa, Papa DeRolla, Christmas Pole Lima, Painted Pony, Snowcap, Jackson's Wonder, Marrow, Cranberry, Butterscotch, Dapple Gray, Rattlesnake Pole, Turkey Craw, and Bible Ruth. We also put in a great quantity of corn, Delicata squash, Connecticut Field Pumpkins, Sweet Meat Squash, Boston Marrow Squash, Moon and Stars Watermelon, Giant Fodder Beets and Sunflowers. Whew! I know that I missed some things but you get the idea anyway. :-)
And then began hay cutting. We have several scythes and cut the hay in short order with them, once you get a rhythm going it goes pretty well. The snick, snick of the blade as it cuts the grass down is a relaxing experience. The whole art of scything is dying, maybe it's already dead, I don't know, but it is a skill worth cultivating I believe. There are American snaths and European snaths and both are different (the snath is the wooden handle). The scythe is the blade and there are different blades for each style of snath and for differing jobs, whether you're cutting hay or trimming brush from fencerows. Your snath must be fitted to you so that you can expend the minimum amount of effort to move your blade across.

We also canned more rhubarb today and will begin on strawberries later this week.

For a bountiful harvest we should give nought but thanks!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


After taking a canning hiatus last week I decided that I needed to can rhubarb today! We have several different Amish families that we buy produce from but I decided to check the "spinster sisters" that live down the road from us a few miles. I was pleased to see that they did have rhubarb and the asking price was $.50 a pound! The one sister was scrubbing the floor when I got there so she dispatched the idle sister to begin cutting my order. I told her that I wanted enough to can 7 quarts and she brought back 9 pounds.

We washed the stalks and then cut them into 1" slices. For every quart of rhubarb we added 3/4 cup of sugar, I got my 7 quarts with 2 stalks to spare! I mixed the rhubarb and sugar up evenly and let it set for 3 hours. After that I placed the whole mixture in a stock pot and boiled for 30 seconds.

I then spooned the hot rhubarb into warm quart jars and topped off with the accumulated juice from the stock pot. Due to shrinkage we only ended up with 5 quarts, but that's OK as I want to can more this coming week. Then the jars were water bath canned for 15 minutes.

Aren't they pretty?

The health benefits of rhubarb are quite numerous, here is a brief synopsis:

This tart treat has health benefits that will make anyone want to go out and try a few. Health benefits of rhubarb are many, and offer a great amount of nutritional value. Rhubarb in the past was used for fevers and used as a laxative. With the benefit of Vitamin C and fiber, rhubarb offers many other benefits to the consumer. Health benefits of rhubarb are:

1. Can lower cholesterol - With its sweet taste, rhubarb surely is easy to get down. Along with the bonus of tasting good, rhubarb lowers cholesterol. Because of the vitamins and nutrients, this helps reduce the risk of harmful diseases. Rhubarb is a sure thing to take if you are suffering from high cholesterol.

2. Help prevent deep vein thrombosis - Because of the nutrients and vitamins; rhubarb helps prevent deep vein thrombosis. This is a blood clot in your feet that can spread to your lungs if you are not treating it. There are many ways to prevent deep vein thrombosis, but rhubarb is the simplest.

3. Rhubarb stimulates the metabolic rate - this makes it a good for people who want to lose unwanted pounds. The dietary properties are promoted with the usage of fiber and potassium. With the potassium it is said to speed up your metabolism to help you lose weight.

4. Low in carbohydrates - Everyone is trying to find the latest health benefit for fruits and vegetables. The best health benefit of rhubarb is that it is low in carbohydrates. When you have something that is low in carbohydrates, you can feel alright when you accidentally eat more than you intended to.

We did a canning jar inventory and I only have about 30 dozen jars total. :-/ That is really not enough, I've already used almost 1/3 of those and this is only May! I'm keeping my eyes open for auctions where jars are listed so I can bolster my supply. Canning makes me so happy, I love the sight of the filled jars in my cupboard. :-) I love it so much that when my sister was here I dragged her out to the kitchen to admire them, she very dutifully extolled their beauty, lol. :-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Dream Fulfilled

A dream of mine to own a wood burning cook stove was fulfilled yesterday as I am now the proud owner of the most beautiful stove ever manufactured!
I have been searching eBay and Craig's list for months in the hopes of finding a suitable stove. I found several that fit the bill but they were in Michigan or Texas or Tennessee and without a truck it just wasn't feasible. Last friday I found this one on eBay for a really nice price but it was in Albany, so I called my travelin' sister to see if she had business up that way. And she did!!! She had to pass within 20 miles of where the stove was in order to pick up her son from college, can you believe it? :-)

So it was hastily arranged for her and a sweet friend with a truck to pick it up for me on Saturday and then they turned around and delivered it to my door yesterday.
They also brought a load of goodies from my folks: a double bed with mattress, box spring, head and foot board, lots of books and magazines, sheer curtains for my livingroom, some shirts for Katie..... :-)

The stove needs the fire bricks replaced and it needs an over rack, but it's pretty well ready to go other than that. I am now in search of a couple of cast iron waffle irons, even the thought pleases me, just thinking of waffles, lol. I am so blessed and happy, I can hardly believe it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Canning Dry Beans

Since the girls and I have been canning dry beans this week I thought I would post a step by step tutorial for anyone who would like to give it a go.

  1. Buy 1 pound bags of these 5 dry beans: great northern, navy, black, pinto and black eyed peas.
  2. Cover beans with water and soak overnight.
  3. Next morning rinse beans under running water.
  4. Put 2-2.25 cups beans in each quart jar (this recipe makes 10 quarts).
  5. Add salt or not, I don't FWIW.
  6. Fill jar with hot water leaving 1" head space.
  7. Pressure can for 90 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.

Voila'! If I want baked beans I open a jar, rinse, add 1 cup ketchup and 1 cup brown sugar, salt & pepper and there you go, homemade baked beans! If I want bean soup I open a jar but don't rinse them and add the rest of my soup ingredients. If I want Minestrone or Vegetable soup..... this is probably the #1 best thing I can for versatility. Most recipes have you cook the beans before canning but that makes for mushy beans and I don't care for that.

We also canned some with the barbeque sauce and bacon in the jar. To do that you put your beans in the jar with 1.5 cups of sauce and fill the rest of the way with water. Can the same time and pressure as above.

We have beefy mushroom soup going now for the last canner load of the week, we're taking this weekend off, I think. I'm t-i-r-e-d!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coolness Extraordinaire!

As I might have mentioned previously, I haven't had a refrigerator since last Summer sometime. We had a brand new refrigerator that lasted, oh, two years maybe and then gave up the ghost. Life is too short and money too precious to repeat that mistake and besides, new appliances just aren't me, ya know? Anyway, I didn't sweat it through the Winter, we just stored perishable items in the snow, but with warm weather here I got some added motivation to find a mechanical means of keeping food cold. Enter my circa 1949 General Electric Refrigerating Machine. I've used these beauties before and they last *forever* so I was happy to purchase another! It was in very rough shape and had quite a bit of rust, but Mr. G refurbished it for me complete with a new paint job. I'm in love. Mr. G's pretty nice too. ;-D
Mine is close to the model in the upper left of this 1949 advertisement.
It is still missing a drawer and the bottom shelf but I'll keep searching until I can find a suitable replacement. Don't you just love the freezer?
Levi bought me an early Mother's Day present this week of 2 Old Hickory knives, they are so sharp and work so well I can't believe how lucky I am! My old knives were in a pretty sad state so these were much needed and appreciated.
In other kitchen/canning news this week the girls and I have canned 14 quarts of chicken stock, 7 quarts of beef stock, 7 quarts of split pea soup and tomorrow we are doing baked beans. I am tired but pleased at the cans rapidly filling the shelves!
The chicken has onions and carrots in it for easy chicken gravy over biscuits, chicken pot pie filling, or chicken soup. That's a good feeling!

Sunday, May 2, 2010