Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So Very Thankful!

Each year seems to go by quicker and quicker.  I don't remember time passing as quickly when I was in high school sitting in class after class.  I mean it wasn't that long ago we were getting ready for Y2K...oh, wait - that was 14 years ago.  Where does the time go?

Bill has a meeting tonight, so it's just the me and the fur babies.  I enjoy quiet time at home, especially since it doesn't seem to happen all that often.  I was thinking today about our holiday plans and that led me to thinking about things I am thankful for.  My list is fairly long as I tend to ponder on the positives rather than the negatives. 

So here it goes (and in no particular order the condensed version):

1) I am thankful that I know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  There have been many events in my life that I would not have made it through if I had not had faith. 

2) I am thankful for my husband.  He comes across mean and gruff, but he is a teddy bear.  Honestly, all he has ever wanted is for everyone to get along.  I remember his sister crying one day and he wanted to know who made her cry.  Although she was a grown woman, he loved her and wanted to protect her. I am also going to put my fur babies here: Sadie, Libby, Harley and Dusty.

Sadie with snow on her nose: 11-17-14.


2) I am thankful for the 22 years that we had to spend with my brother LT.  Even after 6 years, his death is still vivid in my mind and I miss him more than words can say. 


3) I am thankful for parents that disciplined me and loved me.

4) I am thankful for my church, the congregation and the fellowship that we have each week.

5) I am thankful for all the children out there that call us Uncle Bill and Aunt Lis, even though we aren't really related.  We love each one of them with all of our hearts.

6) Finally, I am thankful for all of you.  I don't write all the time, but I have enjoyed blogging.  The recipes that I put on here are ones that I actually serve and eat and not just ones that I've tried and would never make again.  Cooking is one of my passions and I am fortunate that I get to cook often.

Here's to you this 2014 holiday season!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Totally Addictive Hawaiian Sweet Roll Appetizer

Totally Addictive Hawaiian Sweet Roll Appetizer     

Warning! These are very addictive and will be gone in minutes.  If you're looking for a good appetizer to make for a party or take to a tailgate - this is it!  I would encourage you to double the recipe as it won't take long for these to be gone!  It's sure to be a hit, I promise.

Ingredients:
1 package of 12 count Hawaiian Dinner Rolls
1 lb Black Forest Ham (really any kind works)
12 slices of Provolone cheese
1 (8-oz) tub of Philadelphia Chive and Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Dried minced onions
Tbsp.  Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


Directions:
Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Cut the rolls in half.  Place the bottoms of the rolls in a 9x13" pan.  Next please equal amounts of ham on each roll and then top with the Provolone cheese.  Spread the tops with a good portion of the Chive and Onion cream cheese spread and place the tops on top of the cheese making them into sandwiches.

In a small bowl, melt the butter.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, minced onion and Parmesan cheese over the tops of the sandwiches and let them sit for about 15 minutes.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Dry Onions from the Garden

One of my favorite things to eat in the summer time is onions and tomatoes.  I remember when I was young, my grandpa would pull a green onion out of the ground, clean it and then let me eat it.  Awww, those were the days...


In my garden this year, I went big.  Go big or stay home right?  I planted 5 rows of onions, several varieties, and I dried them out and hung them in my pantry to store for winter use.



Drying onions is very simple.  When the green stems start to die off, or when the onion has outgrown the hole you put it in, pull the onions and let them dry for about two days out in the sun so that the skins can harden up.  Air needs to reach the entire onion, so if you don't have something to put them on that has good ventilation, you might want to rotate your onions every other day.


I had my onions laying on our flatbed trailer, but Bill needed the trailer, so I had to move them.  I laid them out on the front porch where they would be in the shade most of the day, but where it would still be warm and breezy for them.  You can see that some of the onions still have very green stems while the others are starting to turn brown and shrivel up.  This entire process can take between 2 and 4 weeks.

The onions are finished drying, or "curing" once the stems have all turned brown and are completely dried up.  Additionally, the skin on the onions should have a withered look around the stem.  Once the onions were to this point, I clipped the stems/tops off the onions leaving about 1/4" - 1/2" from the bulb.  If you don't leave at least that much space, the neck of the onions won't dry out and could possibly rot when you store it.

The next thing you will want to do is have several pair of pantyhose, yes pantyhose on hand so that you can store your onion in them.  To store your onions in pantyhose, simply cut off legs of each hose, and drop an onion in one of the legs.  Make a not at the top of where the onion is and repeat until the leg of the pantyhose is full.  This is a very cheap way to store onions and still allow them to breathe.

After you have the onions in the pantyhose, you are ready to store them.  You should choose a dark, cool area that stays between 40-50 degrees year round.  For some people, this might be your basement or a root cellar.  We simply shut off the heat vent in one of our rooms and block out the light from the window through the winter time.  If the area that you store your onions in becomes to hot, the onions will begin to sprout, if it's too cold the onion will begin to rot.  

When the times comes that you need to use them, simply cut them off the pantyhose!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Use a Pressure Canner

If you have never used a pressure canner, let me assure you that it's not as scary, or as hard, as you might be led to believe.  In fact, it is so user friendly that you'll be kicking yourself for not trying it sooner.  I have a Presto 01781 Pressure Canner and I love it.  You can get a good Pressure Canner for around $75.  Some may be a little cheaper, but most of them will cost between $50-$100.  My Presto will hold 7 quarts at once.  I also have an older Pressure Canner that I bought off of my friend Ruth.  They are both wonderful!  The picture below is of the newer Pressure Canner.



Ok, so let's learn how to use this canner in what I would like to say is simple terms...

The first thing you want to do is READ the directions.  Yes, read them.  I don't like to do it either, and I didn't understand them when I was done, but I read them so at least I had a working knowledge of what parts and pieces my canner had.  Next, follow the instructions and clean it before using it.  Get familiar with it.

Once you are ready to start canning, you will need right at 3 quarts of water in the canner.  You want the water to be around 3" deep.  The first time I used my canner, there was an indention on the inside that showed me how far to fill the water up to.  However, after I used it 2 or 3 times, I could no longer tell where the indention was, so using the 3 quarts of water works about perfect for my canner.  




After you have filled your canner with water, I suggest putting it on the stove and turning it on the lowest setting, until you're ready to put the jars in.  Once you put the jars in the canner, twist and lock the lid in place on the pressure canner. Turn the stove onto the highest heat setting and wait for a steady steam to start coming out of the vent pipe.  When this happens, set a timer for 10 minutes and let it vent.  After the 10 minutes, put the pressure weight onto the vent pipe.  The pressure in the canner will now start to slowly rise.


This is the pressure weight on top of the vent pipe.

*********DO NOT TAKE THE PRESSURE WEIGHT OFF FOR ANY REASON*********

As the pressure begins to rise, the safety valve will pop up.  The lid is now fully locked.  You may notice that some water or steam might escape through the safety valve as the pressure inside the canner goes up.  This is perfectly normal and is an excellent safety feature of the pressure canner.

Safety valve


Once the pressure gauge is at the pressure you need it at...let's say 10 pounds of pressure for green beans...I would let it go over a pound to 11 just to be safe, you will want to adjust the heat on the stove to keep it at that constant pressure.  The processing time begins when the pressure gauge reaches the correct pressure.  When this happens, you will want to set your timer at this point for however long your items are to cook - for green beans it would be 25 minutes.  You will need to watch the pressure gauge the entire time and make adjustments to the heat accordingly.


Pressure Gage

When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and remove the canner from the stove.  Let the canner depressurize at room temperature.  Again, DO NOT TAKE THE PRESSURE WEIGHT OFF FOR ANY REASON.  You will notice that the dial will slowly come back down to 0.  Once the dial is back to zero, I usually weight another 10 minutes before removing the lid.  At this point, you can remove the pressure weight.  Be careful when removing the lid, as the steam will be hot and can cause burns. Lift the lid away and set to the side (I usually set mine on pot holders because it is so hot).  Again, I wait another 10 minutes before removing the jars and placing them on a clean towel on my counter.

What do you think?  Not that hard, but it takes a lot of patience.  I had pressure canned with my mother-in-law at one point, but wasn't comfortable doing it myself until a friend showed me.  Hopefully these instructions and pictures will help.  Happy canning!




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tomato Soup Canning Recipe

There's no doubt about it, it has been an incredible year for the garden.  I have literally canned so much that I ran out of jars twice and had to clean out  cabinets to make room for all my canned goods.  It will be quite the reward this winter when we are eating from our stocked pantry.

Last year I received a recipe from one of our 4-H Grandma's for Tomato Soup that is pressure canned.  This soup is delicious and perfect for eating with a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold Winter's (or Fall) day.

Tomato Soup

Ruby Hoop's Regal Tomato Soup Recipe


6 medium onions
1 bunch celery
8 quarts cut-up tomatoes
(I used about 24 pounds worth)
3/4 cup sugar
(I only used 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup salt
1 cup butter or margarine
(make sure it's at room temperature)
1 cup flour


Chop the onions and celery and put them into a large kettle with just enough water to start a good boil and prevent scorching. Add the tomato pieces (no need to peel off the skins) and cook the vegetables until they're tender. Then put them through a food mill to remove seeds and chunks, and return the pulp to the kettle along with the sugar and salt. Cream together the butter and flour, add the well-blended mixture to the boiling purée, stir thoroughly, and continue to simmer the combination until it thickens slightly (to about the consistency of thin gravy). Pour the soup into hot jars and process in a pressure canner for 10 minutes at 5 pounds. At serving time, (I omit this step when serving but you are welcome to do it) empty the concentrate into a saucepan, add 2 pinches of, soda per pint, warm the tomato mix slightly, and dilute it with an equal amount of milk or water. Then heat the soup to eating temperature. 

For a publication on tomatoes and canning visit The University of Maine.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Do you ever have fresh produce in the house and notice fruit flies hovering around it?  Or have you ever brought in items from the garden and had fruit flies?  I am not a fan of these tiny insects.  I feel like I have an unclean house when I see them flying about. Over the years I have learned a trick on how to get rid of these nasty pests and I wanted to share it with you.  The picture is disgusting, but as you can see, it works.



All you need is Apple Cider Vinegar and Dawn dish soap.


  

Combine the two ingredients in a disposable dish. I usually do 3/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar and 3-4 drops of Dawn. 

Leave the container out on the counter close to the produce and within 24 hours, they will be in the disposable container that you can just throw away.  Easy, simple and fool proof.  Give it a try!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles

Time is often of the essence at my house.  Although we do not have children, we seem to be busy all of the time.  If there isn't a night meeting to attend, there is something to be done on the farm.  With that being said, I ran across this sign at the Indiana State Fair in the Pioneer Building..."Without good farming, there can be no good food.  Without good food, there can be no life." 

Bill and I strive each year to be good stewards of the farm ground that we are entrusted with by our landlords.  We want to be good farming neighbors to those that live around us. We also like to eat "good" food.


Everyone enjoys chicken and noodles, but when you run short of time, try using your slow cooker!



Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles

Ingredients:

4-5 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
2 cans (14.5oz) of chicken broth
2 cans (10.5 oz) Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup of butter
24 oz bag of frozen egg noodles


Directions:
Put the first 4 ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Remove the chicken and shred (I actually shred the chicken in the slow cooker).  Return the chicken to the slow cooker , add the egg noodles and cook for another 2-3 hours (until the noodles are tender).  Add salt/pepper to taste.

For a complete meal, serve these with Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes and Homemade Sweet Rolls.