Spring Has Froze

Greetings from cold and snowy Indiana!  Spring is struggling to get going this year and our spring projects are a bit slower than we had planned.  In my cup this morning is regular old coffee with stevia and almond milk.

DSCN3224-webreadyOne of our projects was to build a backyard chicken coop for the chickie babies.  Not so much babies anymore…they are all feathered in now and getting big.  But they are growing fast and outgrowing the dog cage they are in.  We have all the supplies for the coop…just waiting for the weather to cooperate.  So far our diva dog Pepper has been very good with them, so we are hoping she will turn out to be a good protector and not an antagonist.
I had hoped to get the early spring garden in but again, trying to work around the weather has made it a
challenge.  pantryMy seed starting indoors was a
big failure and I haven’t had a chance to redo the heirloom tomatoes and peppers I wanted to start. Are you seeing a pattern?  lol  Even so, God is in control so in His capable hands I will leave it all and just take things one day at a time.

One of the indoor projects that we did finish turning a spare closet into pantry.  Hubby and son work hard and got it finished and I got it filled it up.  It is so nice being able to have everything in one place now…and fairly organized.  They did a great job!  Our washer also sprung a leak and thankfully hubby and son were able to fix that as well saving us from having to buy a new washer.  We are also waiting for better weather to finish the roof.
Another things I’ve been up to is I have been slowly working on restarting my craft business.  I had it going successfully for a long time, then decided to pull the plug grayshawl1when it (and other things) started taking a toll on my health.  Things have changed a lot in the short few years since I stopped and since I want to do this right I am not rushing things.  The most time consuming part for me is taking pictures of everything and listing them.  I have lots to list so taking pictures, editing and listing is a slow process.  Despite that I find myself enjoying this much more than I ever have.

That’s it for now.   I hope all is well where you are, I’d love to hear how your spring is going.   Until next time, grace and peace!

Psalm 51:1-2
Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.



Canning Corn Using A Drill

wpid-20150823_212640.jpgQuite honestly, I felt it was easier to just buy frozen corn than spending all that time cutting corn off the cob to can it.  After buying some corn that we planned on canning, hubby wanted to try using the drill to cut the kernels off.  He got the idea from a friend who had shared a video she did when she used her drill to do 400 ears of corn.  She bought the special made bit she used, but hubby was sure he could make one.  Most of what we found only included sales information on a drill bit and not DIY information.  After watching a few videos and doing some searching on the internet, hubby figured we would need a 4-inch lag bolt and a big washer.  So off to the hardware store he and our son went.  He came back with a 4-inch stainless steel lag bolt and a fender wpid-20150823_212544.jpgwasher.  Our son cut the head off the bolt with a hack saw, then used the grinder wheel to take off the sharp edges.  That chucked right into hubby’s drill.   He slipped the fender washer on and was ready to go.  He drilled into the end of the corn, spun it through the corn cutter…and just like that it was done.  It took longer for us shuck the corn than for hubby to cut the corn off.  How cool is that??  Now you may decide you want to weld the washer to the bolt, but that is up to you.  Hubby says he isn’t going to bother.

wpid-20150824_112733.jpgIn a short amount of time, we went through 104 ears of corn and got it ready to can.  Which I’m in the process of doing.  I have 20 pints in the canner right now, and 18 waiting to go in.  I’m using the instructions in the Ball Blue Book for raw pack.

Hope you find this helpful.  Here is a short video, “highly professional” video we did showing hubby cutting the corn off the cob with the drill:

Storing Eggs Long Term

We’ve been talking about getting laying hens for several years. We were told that living right in town we couldn’t have them so we had been working to change that. We recently found out that we can, and so we are starting to plan on getting chicks in the spring.

We have a lot of people around this area (especially Amish) who sell fresh eggs so we already enjoy farm fresh eggs. Now we’re looking forward to having an abundance of our own eggs. I already understand about storing eggs short term, but have never really felt comfortable with long term storage…like prepping storage.

I have seen lots of posts about different ways to store eggs for long periods. Since we haven’t raised our own, my preference was to have dehydrated/powdered eggs on hand. They actually don’t taste too bad as scrambled eggs, and there have been times when I’ve had to use it for baking when I’ve run out of eggs (like now) and it works great. But what about storing whole eggs?  Safely?

I came across this video from Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. on YouTube and while they are really more into reenactment than prepping, it’s still good information to chew on. I’m not going to run out and start storing my eggs any of these ways, I honestly think I’ll stick with the dehydrated for long term storage, but maybe at some point when I have an abundance of my own eggs, I will decide that it’s practical.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Have yourself a great day!  Grace and peace!

Recipe: Basic Brown Rice

brown riceI have been using brown rice for a long time with much trial and error. It is so much healthier than white rice and isn’t any harder to make. The World’s Healthiest Foods website says “The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be “enriched” with vitamins B1, B3 and iron.” One cup of brown rice has 3 1/2 grams of fiber while the same amount of white rice has less than one gram of fiber. We all need from 25 to 38 grams of fiber in our diet everyday.

I buy my brown rice in bulk 25 lbs. at a time.  We eat a lot of rice and this will typically last us about 6 months.  If you are looking at long term storage of rice, brown rice wouldn’t be a good choice.  Brown rice has healthy, essential oils that cause it to become rancid quickly.  The shelf life is about 6 months.  My favorite place to store brown rice is in the freezer which gives you an additional 6 months.  But we usually finish it off before then.  While it is possible to store it longer in mylar with oxygen absorbers, it may give you up to two years.  Keep in mind, you don’t know how long that brown rice has been in storage before you get it.  Again, white rice would be a much better choice for long term storage.  Oh, and putting it in the freezer for a couple days after you buy it also helps keep those little bugs under control.

I have found for me the perfect recipe is 1 cup of uncooked rice to three cups of water/broth. Others recommend anywhere from 2 1/4 to 1 3/4 water/broth. Trial and error, see what works best for you depending on your stove and your cookware. One cup of uncooked brown rice equals about 3 cups of cooked rice. Be sure to rinse your rice good before cooking.  Recently I have been soaking my rice overnight, I have found that changes the recipe to 1 cup soaked brown rice to two cups of water/broth.  It also changes the flavor some.  Oh, and don’t stir rice while it cooks, it will become mushy.

Another method I found for preparing brown rice came from the Food Network (I really like Alton Brown’s recipes). Instead of boiling the rice, it’s baked. I can’t wait to try this myself:

1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

Bring the water, butter, and salt just to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan. Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.

Canning Apples

20141027_104820Almost two bushels of apples (Cortland and Jonamac), a few for apple pie filling and the rest will soon be apple sauce.  Some of the biggest, prettiest local apples I’ve ever seen. Yesterday I canned seven quarts of apple pie filling, and after checking them this morning, all the jars have sealed.  (Wheeee!) I just need to wash them and put them away now.  I used the recipe from Ball with a couple changes.

20141028_081817My changes were that I used brown sugar instead of regular sugar, and I don’t use Sure-Jell.  I don’t use it when making an apple pie, so I didn’t want to put it in when I canned apple pie filling.  If I could make it without sugar, I would do that too.  I’m still looking for a good recipe for that.  In the mean time, I’ll use the one I have.

Today will be spent cutting and cooking the apple sauce, and I’ll probably be canning that tomorrow.  Yes, I did not say peeling.  I do leave the skins on when I make apple sauce.  Just get the cores out.  After they are cooked and soft, you can use a blender, food processor, or strainer.  If you peel the apples you can even use a potato masher.  Makes a great chunky apple sauce.  I’ll be using my immersion blender.  And I don’t add any any sugar, I don’t think a good homemade applesauce needs it.  If you are canning apples, what are the different ways you are canning them?


Canning Dried Beans

One of the things I want t2012MARbeansBo do is grow and raise enough food that we can eat out of the pantry and spend as little as possible at the store. It will be a lot easier when we aren’t in the zoned town limits. Until then we’ll do what we can do.

I would love to grow and can all sorts of beans, but our space is limited at the moment (I would love to just till the whole yard up!) so we just grow green and wax beans.  Since I can’t grow others, the next best frugal thing is to buy dried beans.  They aren’t hard to make at all if you have the time.  And most of the time is the beans soaking or cooking.

I recently read somewhere (I don’t remember where though) that fall/winter is the perfect time to can dried beans and I couldn’t agree more.  Who wants to heat up the kitchen in the summer cooking and canning dried beans if you don’t have to?  And we’re all usually busy canning from the garden.  Having them ready to eat out of the jar is such a time saver as well.  So I am on a mission to pull dried beans out of the pantry and get them canned.

I am canning the beans plain with the recipe below, but you can season them up.  Ham and beans, baked beans, chili beans etc.  The Ball Blue Book is a great place to start.

My next batch of beans will be black beans, those are hubbys favorite.  At some point I want to do pinto beans. In the mean time this past weekend I picked up a 50-pound bag of white potatoes and I’m going to be canning them as well.  Once those are done I hope to get a 50-pound bag of red potatoes and can those too.  But for now, beans.

Beans or Peas – Dried (Kidney, Navy, Pinto, etc.)
from the Ball Blue Book

2 1/4 pounds dried beans or peas per quart
Salt (optional)

Cover beans or peas with cold water.  Let stand 12-18 hours in a cool place.  Drain.  Cover beans or peas with cold water by 2 inches in a large saucepot.  Bring to a boil; boil 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  Pack hot beans or peas into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to each pint jar, 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, if desired.  Ladle hot cooking liquid or boiling water over beans or peas, leaving 1-inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process pints 1 hour and 15 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.