Sunday, August 30, 2015

An Oldie but Goodie...Making Peach Jelly!

This is an 'encore' presentation of this post.  I hope you find this very popular post helpful!  Give it a try!  The Little Red Hen

It's a matter of ....making Peach Jelly

When I was little, I recall going into our "fruitroom" as I was looking for my mother. I found her in the fruitroom standing and gazing at all the bottled food she had prepared. After I called to her, she said, "aren't they pretty?" (referring to all the jars of food). I thought that was rather funny at the time, but as an adult I have come to understand what she was doing.

I have been on a "Jam" kick this summer, trying and making many different kinds. However, after making Peach Jam (which is really yummy!), I chose to make Peach Jelly. I like this recipe as it uses the skins and pits of the peaches which many of us normally discard. I got this recipe from my mother, who unfortunately cannot recall where she obtained it. I thought I would share the process and the recipe with you.

    Peach Jelly Recipe

  • 5.5 Cups Peach Juice (Peels and pits in a pan, cover with water, cook 30 minutes, strain with cheese cloth. Put i enough water to cover by 3-4")

  • 1 package of Dry Pectin (I found that you need to use new pectin that you purchase the year you make the jelly)

  • 7.5 Cups of Sugar.

  • Instructions: Combine the juice and pectin in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stir in sugar and return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat, let it sit for a few minutes. Skim the foam. Ladle into hot sterile jars leaving 1/4" head room. Process 10 minutes in a Hot Water Bath.
Here is the process in "photos":

Boil the pits and the skins until the water turns red.

Place a couple of layers of Cheesecloth in your strainer. Make sure the strainer is inside a larger bowl to catch the Peach juice once it is strained through the Cheesecloth.

This is the juice after it has been strained. The juice is now ready to be put into the recipe noted above. (One thing that I learned is that you need to use new Pectin. I made 2 batches. The first batch was made with Pectin I have left over from last year and the other with Pectin I just purchased recently. The first batch partially set up, but the second batch had no issues.)

Pour the jelly mixture into jars, wipe the jar rim, place a sterilized lid on and seal with a jar ring. Notice how clear the jelly is. You can see the peach jam I processed in the background. The jam is the color of peaches, but the jelly has the red hue to it that was achieved while boiling. Process the jars in your hot water bath canner.

Again, notice how translucent it is after it is processed. Jelly is wonderful on breads, rolls, and even on pork chops when you cook them in the oven. This is glorious food that is made from items that are traditionally discarded. It's easy to make, and tastes great! It is a great companion to some freshly baked bread as a gift for someone who is needs some special attention. I found myself standing and admiring my jam and jelly in the jars. I particularly enjoyed how beautiful the jelly looked visually. I found the bottles to be "beautiful" just as my mother did years ago.
This is an easy recipe...give it a try!

Monday, August 24, 2015

It's a Matter of Safely Transporting Food to Feed a Crowd

I have had many opportunities to prepare and transport food to feed our beloved Young Single Adults for various meals and snacks.  We live about 30 minutes from these good young people, so I have had to prepare and plan to arrive with delicious piping hot food.  I have used the Haybox method most of the time. 

Transporting Hot Food Safely in a Crockpot

After doing a bit of research, I purchased this 6-quart Crockpot that has a great indicator of the temperature that operates whether the device has power or not.  

 See the indicator with the yellow-to-red dial?  I decided to try it out!

As usual, I decided to prepare my meal from my food storage staples.  Today's offering....a creamy Lemon Chicken dish.

 In a separate sauce pan, I melt the butter.

 Next I add the Cream of Mushroom soup.

Stir the butter and soups together.

I prefer to use Crockpot liners to avoid baked on messes. Here I am using Chicken Fingers that are frozen.  I drop them right in.

Pour the combination of butter, spices, and soup over the chicken.  Cook as directed.

Here is the creamy result.  The chicken and sauce were served over rice.

Let's just say there was nothing left...

Take Home Points:

  • I was pleased with this device.  It has clips to keep the lid on tight and a gasket that avoids spills. It also holds in the heat and the indicator let me know how the temperature was holding.  The food was very hot after a 30 minute drive.
  • I will be using this Crockpot in the future particularly when I need to transport large amounts of hot foods.  It really lived up to the hype that I read.
  • Here is the recipe if you wish to bless the next crowd that you feed:
Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (either frozen or thawed out is fine)
1 recipe cream of chicken soup (equivalent to 1 can*)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp.+ lemon pepper seasoning*
4 oz. chopped mushrooms
Place chicken breasts on the bottom of your slow cooker. I don’t even grease mine, but you might if you are afraid of things sticking. Sprinkle chicken with lemon pepper.
Mix soup, milk and 2 Tbsp. lemon pepper.
Add mushrooms to soup mix.
Pour soup mixture over chicken in the crock pot. Add chicken broth.
Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Try it! 

                        Friday, August 7, 2015

                        It's a Matter of Easily Releasing Frozen Concentrate From the Can!

                        I love to have a family gathering for special occasions, don't you?  I often rely on my Pantry and Food Storage for many of my meals, including special occasions. This applies to food of course, but also to the drinks I offer.  I have drinks that come in many forms, including frozen in concentrate from my Freezer.

                        How to easily get Frozen Concentrate out of a Can!

                        I used to ate trying to get the concentrate out of the can, particularly without making a mess!  Digging, sploshing, etc....I used to hate using Frozen Concentrate. That is, until I learned this great little trick!

                        Certainly we all know that you take off the lid of the Frozen Concentrate and attempt to empty the contents into your pitcher or decanter.  Usually, the Concentrate sits there as a frozen colorful ice cube and does not budge.

                        Not to worry!  Here is a slick trick that I learned from my very smart Mother. Use your can opener and cut a slit in the opposite end.

                        Voila! Almost instantaneously the frozen goodness is released from the can!

                        With very little fuss, you can have a refreshing drink ready for any special occasion....even if it is just for you morning breakfast!

                        Take Home Points:

                        • Having Frozen Concentrate in your Freezer is a great way to have juices and flavorful drinks in your Food Storage.
                        • Using your can opener, you can easily empty the contents when preparing your juice.

                        Sunday, July 19, 2015

                        How Does Your Garden Grow.....In a Drought?

                        Yes, believe it or not, this is my first Tomato of the Season.  Isn't it a beautiful Roma?  We actually had two ripen yesterday and Rooster Senior and I sliced them on a cutting board, grabbed the Salt and Pepper, and ate them!  They were sooo good!  There is nothing like a freshly picked tomato from your garden!

                        Gardening in a Drought:

                        A few weeks ago, I began to write about Gardening in a Drought and how I planned to water my Raised Bed Garden. Some of the techniques that I am using come from a class I took taught by Caleb Warnock from Renaissance Seeds. 

                        I thought I would update you and also show you some of my thoughts on vertical gardening that I am using.

                        I bought these panels of wire mesh from my local big box hardware store.  They are used to reinforce concrete when it is poured.  

                        See the width of the openings? I can easily fit my hand/fist through the openings to harvest my garden.  The squares are 4 inches by 4 inches.  

                        Rooster Senior had these wire ties to attach the grid to the PVC Pipe.  Let me tell you about the PVC pipes.  Pieces of Rebar were pounded into the ground. Lengths of PVC pipes were placed over the Rebar for the vertical pieces.  T-fittings and elbow fittings were used to create the horizontal pieces to attach the wire mesh to.

                        I train my beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers to climb the mesh. This helps keep the vegetables off the ground, supports the vines/stalks, and makes harvesting so much easier.

                        We all have those rogue socks that we can never find the mate of...right?  These are nylon hose-type socks that I cannot find the mates to.

                        I used these socks to secure my Tomato stalks to the grid. These plants are heavy laden with Tomatoes already and need the support. I gently tied these to the grid which allows for them to continue growing without being constricted.

                        Here is another example of re-purposing these socks.  See the blue sock?

                        Keeping your Garden Watered during a Drought...

                        Here you can see a little visitor getting a bit of a shower.  You can also see how I water my garden with holes drilled in a PVC pipe.  I only water every 2-3 days and sometimes go longer.  Mr. Warnock says he goes as long as 7-10 days depending upon how deeply he has watered.  He taught me to look at the Panting Peonies. Essentially, I have planted squash and pumpkins (My Peonies). If they wilt during the day, but perk up at night, the soil still has enough moisture.  As my garden is watered per my lawn schedule, I rarely have gone more than 2-3 days.

                        I have also used my lawn clippings to cover the ground around my plantings. The Tomatoes have loved this.  The clippings hold in the moisture and keep my plants watered and cool.

                        Although difficult to see behind my beautiful Roma, the Tomato plants, peppers, and herbs are thriving with lawn clippings around their base.

                        I have also used Mr. Warnock's lettuce seeds that are hearty enough to not only grow in my area, but also they are reportedly more drought tolerant.  You can see that they are thriving with the mulching and periodic water schedule.

                        Take Home Points:

                        • The PVC pipe and wire mesh are reasonably priced.  It cost very little to make the Vertical piece of the garden. I was fortunate that Rooster Senior had pieces of Rebar that we used to hold the vertical frame in place.
                        • The grass clippings/mulch really hold the moisture in the soil.  When the top of the clippings look dry, I have looked under them at the soil level. Honestly, there is plenty of moisture at the bottom of the clippings and the soil.  This has been a real surprise for me. 
                        • The Peonies have been a pleasant surprise for me as well. It's like a secret code.  I actually have not always been able to water my lawn on the selected days allowed in my area due to the drought.  The Peonies have been a big source of relief for me to ensure that my soil was still moist enough.
                        • I love repurposing things when  I can.  Those errand socks, (although a little hillbilly looking), are working well.  
                        • The specific seeds that are for my area (heirloom type) really seem to be thriving even in dry conditions.  I have been pleased overall to be blessed enough to use them this year.
                        You can grow a garden in a drought....and it can thrive.  Please know that if I can do this, anyone can.  My kids can tell you that gardening has not always been my strong suit.  This year, I am feeling very pleased with "how my garden grows".

                        Try it!

                        Saturday, July 4, 2015

                        It's A Matter of .....A Patriotic Dessert From Your Pantry!

                        Happy 4th of July everyone!  I hope you had time to see a parade, grill out, and spend time with loved ones. I also hope that you make it a point to remember why we have this holiday and thank those who protect us.  Take a moment to thank someone personally.  I have a loved one who has served us all.

                        Well, I decided to make a twist on a family favorite.....Strawberry Pie.

                        Prepare your favorite Graham Cracker Crust!

                        Since it is Strawberry Season, slice your berries and place them in your prepared shell.

                        I decided to add some Blueberries to make it look a little more "Patriotic"

                        You may ask why I am using a valved sippy cup.  The recipe calls for Cornstarch and water to be mixed evenly.  I put them in here and shake hard!

                        Look how smooth is it mixed together!

                        Add the Sugar and bring to a boil. When the mixture is thick and clear, turn off the heat.  Let the mixture cool a bit and add the Jello packet.

                        Pour the mixture over the fruit in the pie.

                        Place the pie in the refrigerator for a few hours.

                        Add whipped cream!  Dive in!

                        Happy Independence Day!

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