Monday, October 1, 2018

Chicken Soup: Curing What Ails You

I am not sure about the history of chicken soup.  I know it has been called penicillin in some circles but most people feel it is guaranteed to put you on the road to recovery.  Children are back at school, and the flu is starting to rear it's ugly head.  It is definitely the start of chicken soup season.  There are plenty of ways to make it, some make matzo ball soup, I make dumplings. 

Basic Stock:

4 - 5 pound chicken cut up
2 medium onions peeled and chopped
2 - 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 carrot trimmed and scrubbed
1 T dried parsley -- 2 T if fresh
2 bay leaves
2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
12 cups cold water

Dig out a large soup pot place all ingredients and water into the pot an have the water cover the ingredients by four inches.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 2 hours covered.  Then remove the cover and simmer for another hour or two.

Strain the stock and remove the solid ingredients.  If you are not using the stock the same day, cool it down and place it in the fridge overnight.  The fat will become solid on the top.  You can skim it off or you can leave it if you prefer.  If using the same day you can use a fat strainer if you want to cut down on the fat.  I chop the chicken up to use the soup. 

Back in my Navy wife days, we used to have a fire on the front lawn of a neighbor in the fall.  One day she doled out her chicken soup, it was good!  A pinch or oregano, that is all that separated hers from mine and I have added it to my soup for the last 30 years.
While the soup is heating make your dumpling recipe.

My mother-in-law's dumpling recipe:

4 eggs
2 half egg shell's worth of cooking oil
2 half egg shell's worth of milk
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cream of tartar
Flour until it is stiff enough to roll

I use a floured mat to roll out the dumplings and a pizza cutter to cut them into squares and put them in the soup.  It simmer about half an hour, the dumplings should be floating to the top.

It is not an exact science, put what you like.  Some days I add a little spice, a dash or Worcester sauce, whatever the mood is.  If the soup doesn't thicken the way we like I will add a can of cream of chicken soup.  Play around with it, it might cure what ails you.


Monday, July 23, 2018


Preserving your garden harvest makes all the work worth while.  Relish is a great way to water bath can and process vegetables.  Our tomato plants put out a huge crop but the heat, insects and birds were becoming a bit much.  We had a great run with the plants and they put out dozens of beautiful ripe tomatoes that we enjoyed, we were left with about three dozen green tomatoes that were not going to ripen.  Fried green tomatoes are always a treat but relish was a better option.

Does relish have health benefits?  Relish can aid in gut-friendly bacteria and digestion.  It also supplies vitamins and the vinegar can help control diabetes.  Relish is high in salt and consuming too much can raise blood pressure.  Salt is necessary in the pickling process as it helps preserve the ingredients canned but also keeps away bacteria, yeast and fungi.

I canned Piccalilli Relish this weekend.  Piccalilli is the type of relish you can improvise with what you have on hand. 


3 Dozen Green Tomatoes
6 Green Peppers
6  Medium Onions
2  Small Cabbages
1/2 Cup Salt
4 Cups of Vinegar
5 Cups of Light Brown Sugar
4 Tablespoons Pickling Spice

Chop all ingredients small, sprinkle with salt and let sit overnight.  Drain and cover with fresh water, let sit a little while than drain again.  Put into a large kettle and add vinegar and sugar.  Tie spices in a small cloth bag, I actually use a large tea ball for this.  Bring to boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes stirring frequently.  Remove the spice bag and put hot piccalilli into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head room; adjust lids and process at 185F for 10 minutes. 

Before starting cooking and canning I put the jars in the dish washer on the sterile setting and left them in there with the door closed when finished.  The dish washer stopped when I was ready to can.
I was able to put up 13 jars of relish.

You can adjust ratios of vegetables, half the recipes and use what you have on hand just be sure more that your mixture is mostly acidic (tomatoes, onions, peppers). 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Eating in Season

In an age where food can be shipped quickly or force grown, should you still eat in season?

There have been studies that show that foods grown in season have twice the nutrients of foods that have not.  Plants thrive in an environment that can support it's growth in season.

Buying food locally is an essential part of eating in season.  Once picked fruit and vegetables lose about 30% of it's nutrients within three days of being picked.  That is something to think about when you are in the grocery store with produce brought in by the truck load.  How far did it have to travel to get there?  Growing conditions where I live have been favorable, so much so that our local farmers market has expanded to two days a week.

Eating in season also helps support balanced health and a variety in diet.  Included in the past supplement articles, food that helps supply vitamins aren't in season all year.  Eating foods that are in season year round would help considerably with those requirements. 

Growing your own food is a great way to have food in season and learn about your environment.  I love the fact I can take a few steps outside to my garden and be able to use what I grow.  I know my tomatoes are flourishing now but in a short time I will have to combat stink bugs.  I was able to plant early so my loss will be minimal.  I can also plant a later batch.  Squash will be going in next. While some things are available in one part of the country they may not be available in another.  Here is an example of two states:

Mississippi                                                          Minnesota

Apples                                                                   Asparagus
Arugula                                                                 Basil
Asian Pears                                                           Beets
Basil                                                                      Black-Eyed Peas
Beets                                                                     Blackberries
Black-Eyed Peas                                                   Blueberries
Blackberries                                                          Brambles
Blueberries                                                            Broccoli
Brambles                                                               Cabbage
Cantaloupe                                                            Carrots
Carrots                                                                  Cauliflower
Cherries                                                                Celery
Chili Peppers                                                        Chard
Chives                                                                   Cherries
Cucumbers                                                            Chicories
Edamame                                                              Chili Peppers
Eggplant                                                                Cilantro   
Figs                                                                       Collard Greens
Gooseberries                                                         Corn
Grapes                                                                   Cucumbers
Ground Cherries                                                   Currants
Lamb's Quarters                                                    Endive
Lavender                                                               Fennel
Leeks                                                                    Garlic
Lettuce                                                                  Gooseberries
Lima Beans                                                           Green Beans
Melons                                                                  Green Onions    
Mint                                                                      Ground Cherries
Mushrooms                                                           Kohlrabi
Nectarines                                                             Lamb's Quarters
Okra                                                                      Lavender
Onions                                                                  Lettuce
Oregano                                                                Mint
Parsley                                                                 Mushrooms
Peaches                                                                Okra
Peanuts                                                                Oregano
Peppers                                                                Pea Shoots
Plums                                                                   Peas
Purslane                                                               Peppers
Raspberries                                                          Plumbs
Rosemary                                                             Potatoes
Sage                                                                     Radicchio
Shallots                                                                Raspberries
Shell Beans                                                          Rosemary
Snap Beans                                                          Sage
Snow Peas                                                           Sprouts
Spinach                                                               Strawberries
Summer Squash                                                  Summer Squash
Sun Chokes                                                         Tarragon
Tomatoes                                                             Thyme
Watercress                                                           Tomatillos
Watermelon                                                         Tomatoes
Zucchini                                                               Zucchini

There are a few differences in what is available in July but I wouldn't expect Minnesota to have as long as a growing season as Mississippi.  Keeping a garden notebook is very helpful.  I planted beans and while they started out with a bang, they quickly fizzled.  My notes for next year are to try to plant earlier but as I talked to other gardeners in my area, they also had the same problem.  Sometimes nature dictates and this was not a good year for beans.

If you are interested strictly as a consumer, there is a decent app through Seasonal Food Guide.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Supplements Part 2


Calcium:  Strong healthy bones and teeth.  Activates enzymes in fat and protein digestion, energy, regulates muscles, blood clotting and transmission of nerve impulses.  It can be found in cheese, yogurt, sardines, canned salmon, milk, edamame, tofu, collard greens, whey protein, rhubarb, beans, lentils, almonds and seeds.

Chromium Picolinate:  Activates enzymes in the body for the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and glucose.  Aids in the transportation of amino acids to the liver and heart cells. It can be found in broccoli, grapes, potatoes, garlic, basil, grass fed beef, apples, oranges, green beans, bananas, apples and red wine.

Copper:   Helps in storage and release of iron, also in the absorption of Vitamin C.  Connective tissue formation and supports central nervous system.  It can be found in shellfish, salmon, catfish, orange roughy, tuna, beef, chicken, turkey, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, beans, peas, and lentils.

Iodine:  Function of the thyroid gland and thyroid hormones.  Nervous system and circulation and metabolism of most nutrients.  It can be found in iodized and pink salt, baked potato, milk, seaweed, cod fish, shrimp, turkey breast, dried prunes, navy beans, tuna, cheddar cheese, cranberries, strawberries, lobster, canned corn, boiled eggs, and green beans.

Iron:  Found in red blood cells in the form of hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body.  Found in myoglobin, a form of hemoglobin found in the muscles which store oxygen and releases it for extra energy.  It can be found in beef, lamb, pork, liver, liverwurst, dried beef, eggs, shellfish, tuna, mackerel, haddock, sardines, spinach, sweet potatoes, peas, string beans, beet greens, dandelion greens, collards, kale, chard, wheat bread, bran, corn meal, oats, rye, strawberries, watermelon, raisins, prunes, dried apricots and peaches, tofu, beans, lentils, corn syrup, molasses and maple syrup.

Magnesium:  Healthy strong bones and teeth, helps muscles relax and aids in the function of nerves and muscles including the regulation of a normal heart rhythm.  It can be found in leafy greens, dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, seeds, whole grains, and salmon.

Phosphorus:  Strengthens bones and teeth and plays a part in almost every chemical reaction of the body that has to do with carbohydrates, fats and proteins.  It is involved in energy metabolism, regulates materials transported in and out of cell walls.  It can be found in tuna, pork chops, tofu, milk, yogurt, chicken and turkey breast, lentils, squash, pumpkin seeds, beef and quinoa.

Potassium:  promotes normal muscle contraction and a regular heartbeat, preserves normal function of nerve cells, heart cells and skeletal muscle cells.  Maintains water balance in body tissue and cells.
It can be found in sweet and white potatoes, bananas, tomato sauce, watermelon, spinach, beets, chard, yogurt, canned salmon, edamame, butternut squash, white and black beans.

Selenium:  Present in all tissues but is concentrated in the kidneys, liver, spleen and pancreas.  Delays and stops the free radical reactions that damage body cells.  Preserves tissue elasticity.  It can be found in beef, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds, baked beans, spinach, lentils, milk, yogurt, brazil nuts, fish, pork, cashews and bananas.

Zinc:  Synthesis of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA which are vital for cell division, cell repair and cell growth.  Also boosts immune system.  It can be found in lamb, pumpkin seeds, chick peas, cocoa powder, cashews, yogurt, mushrooms, spinach and chicken.

Pills can be a more convenient form but having a nutritional food balance is more beneficial.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Supplements Part 1

Walk into any pharmacy and you will see a shelves of vitamins, minerals, herbals, and specialty supplements.  Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry.  A varied healthy diet is important in getting essential nutrients.  Just the vitamins today.

Vitamin A - immune system, skin, nails, mucous membranes, eyes.  It can be found in milk, eggs, yellow vegetables, tomatoes and fruits.

Beta-Carotene - a pre-Vitamin A compound which the body converts to Vitamin A. Maintains healthy vision and immune system.  It can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, and apricots.

Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine) - nervous system, muscles, heart, energy.  It can be found in beef, liver, dried milk, oats, nuts, oranges, pork, eggs, seeds, legumes, peas and yeast.

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) - energy, mucous membrane linings, nervous system, skin and eyes.  It can be found in beef, liver, lamb, salmon, milk, natural yogurt, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, sun dried tomatoes, and eggs.

Vitamin B-3 (Niacin) - fat and tissue respiration, helps reduce blood cholesterol, skin, nerves and digestive system.  It can be found in peanuts, mushrooms, liver, tuna, green peas, grass fed beef, turkey and chicken breast.

Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid) - energy, hormones, bile, hemoglobin, nerves.  It can be found in chicken liver, salmon, sunflower seeds, sun dried tomatoes, avocados, corn broccoli, mushrooms, yogurt and cauliflower.

Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine) - energy, stress, red blood cells and brain.  It can be found in legumes, nuts, seeds, lean meats, poultry, seafood and eggs.

Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid) - red blood cells and nervous system.  It can be found in dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, beans, peas, lentils, carrots, squash, avocados, brussel sprouts, okra, seeds, nuts, cauliflower, beets, corn and celery.

Vitamin B-12 (Cyanocobalamin) - red blood cells, bone marrow, nervous system.  It can be found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, shellfish and cheese.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) - immune system, iron absorption, collagen, hemoglobin, capillaries and red blood cells.  It can be found in pineapple, brussel sprouts, guava, black currants, red and green peppers, oranges, strawberries, papayas, broccoli, kale, mango, cauliflower, parsley and grapefruit.

Vitamin D - bone density and mineral absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus.  It can be found in tuna, mackerel, salmon, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.

Vitamin E - is an antioxidant that helps fight against and free radicals.  It protects Vitamin A and C. It acts as an anti-blood clotting agent, prolongs the life of red blood cells.  It can be found in wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazel nuts, spinach, avocado, turnip greens, butternut squash, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, palm oil, peanuts, and olive oil.

Vitamin H (Biotin) - B complex vitamin.  Metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, healthy skin and hair.  It can be found in liver, yeast, cheddar cheese, salmon, avocado, bananas, egg yolk, peanuts, whole wheat bread, pork, sardines, raspberries, cauliflower and egg yolk.

Vitamin K - production of coagulants, the blood clotting factors within the body.  It can be found in kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens, parsley, romaine, green leaf lettuce, fish, liver, meat and eggs.

Do your vitamins look like this?

When they should look more like this:

Supplements Part 2

Sunday, June 24, 2018


I grew up in an industrial town.  My friend lived in a row of houses just past all the factories, the last factory was the bread stick factory.  The smell was wonderful and if you had a dollar and they weren't too busy they would give you a large bag full of warm, fresh bread sticks.  It was heaven!   When I was older, I tried to bake my own bread, it was awful.  Learning to cook was a dismal endeavor for me and anyone who happened to be around when I entered the kitchen.  I improved year by year cooking meals, but it took me much longer to be able to produce an edible loaf of bread.   I really couldn't tell you why, or even when it all started to come together.  A little more yeast, a lot more patience, maybe some praying, but it did finally come together.  I would love to tell you that I bake for our budget, or even that I wanted better nutritional value, but I would be lying.. I bake bread because I love the smell of bread baking, I enjoy the satisfaction of it coming out well and I like to eat it.

Basic Sandwich Loaf

3 cups of warm water
3 Tablespoons of yeast
1/4 cup sugar
9 cups of flour
5 teaspoons of salt
5 Tablespoons of oil

Pretty basic, what is good about this is you can substitute different flours.  If all purpose flour is what you have in bulk or budget, this will work.  I use a combination of wheat, all purpose, and bread flour. 
Add yeast and sugar to warm water and stir to dissolve.  Add half the flour and all of the salt, mix well then knead in the rest of the flour.  Place in bowl if mixing by hand and add oil, knead a few minutes then cover and let rise 45 minutes.  Punch down and shape and place into two greased loaves and cover. let rise 35-40 minutes, preheat oven to 400.
Bake for 30 minutes, check after 15 minutes and if getting too brown, tent some tin foil over the top and continue baking until finished.  Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

No matter how I bake it, a couple of the children will not eat loaf bread.  They just prefer store bought but all of them eat this:

Favorite Na an Bread

1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 egg beaten
2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl dissolve yeast in water and wait 10 minutes until bubbly.  Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt and flour.  Knead until smooth.  Knead into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.  About one hour.  Punch down dough and knead in garlic.  Pinch off small amounts, about the size of a golf ball.  I place them on a long sheet of wax paper and cover with plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking oil.  Let rise thirty minutes.  Roll out flat on a lightly floured surface.  You can use a flat cast iron griddle, or a nonstick frying pan.  Brown slightly on both sides, remove from heat and brush lightly with melted butter.

One of my favorites:

Baked Boston Brown Bread

2 cups yellow or white cornmeal
1 cup rye-wheat flour or 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of rye flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup dark molasses
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9X5 loaf pan.
Stir together cornmeal, rye-wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Stir in molasses, buttermilk, ginger and raisins until just mixed.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake on center rack of oven for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.  Cool in the pan for five minutes, then turn out onto a wire a rack to finish cooling.  This is a very dense, dark bread.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Food Dehydration

Drying food is the earliest methods of food dehydration.  Speed, uniform slices, and best quality of produce are determining factors in food dehydration as is air circulation. 

Sun drying is the oldest and cheapest method of food dehydration.  In places with low humidity, like Arizona, all you need is a couple of screens and two blocks to place them on for air circulation.  I live in a high humidity area and food would turn rancid before it would dry.  Humidity below 20% is ideal.
Oven drying is another option.  Place your produce on a tray and set your oven to 140F.  Leave the door open slightly.  Some use a fan to blow into the oven also to help with air circulation.  My oven has 170f as a low temperature so this is not an option for me.  You don't want to cook the food, just dry it.
Electric food dehydrators are a popular choice. 

Available with multiple trays, fruit leather trays and temperature control.  You can place your produce in the trays and let the food dry overnight.

Fruit and Berries:

All foods need some type of preparation prior to drying.  Cherries, blueberries, grapes, and other fruits and berries with a waxy coat should be put into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds then submerged in ice water.  This helps break the skin and allow moisture out.  Light colored fruit that can brown, such as apples should be treated first with ascorbic acid.  For apples dissolve two teaspoons in one cup of water and one teaspoon in one cup of water for all other light colored fruits. Sprinkle on slices and mix or quickly dip slices in the solution.  You don't want to saturate.

Uniform slices are key, most fruit and vegetables should be slice 3mm to 5mm thick.  If you are not consistent with a knife a mandoline might be a better option.

Place your slices in a single layer on your tray(s), and set your temperature.  Most fruit will take 6 to 10 hours to dehydrate depending on how juicy the fruit and humidity.  The finished product should be leathery and no moisture should remain in the center.  If you are using a lot of trays you may have to rotate half way during your drying time.
You can puree your fruit and spread 1/4 inch thick on an oven tray or fruit leather tray and dry also.  It should not be sticky when finished and can be rolled up in wax paper and Ziploc bag.


Vegetables should be blanched before drying with the exception of onions, garlic, okra and mushrooms.  A handy blanching chart available from the University of Minnesota Extension.
Submerge blanched vegetables in ice water or run under cold water.  Vegetables can take from 6 to 8 hours depending on size and humidity.  They should be brittle when finished.


Lean meats should be used in drying.  Trim off as much fat and connective tissue as possible.  Fat turns rancid in drying.  Meat can be seasoned or marinated before hand and ground meat can be used also to make jerky.  Meat should be sliced thin.  A meat slicer comes in handy.

Also for making jerky out of ground meat you might want to consider a jerky gun.  I have successfully made jerky out of ground venison with the help of one.

You can marinate meat overnight and dehydrate in the morning.  Dehydrate meat at the highest temperature setting for six hours and finish off in the oven at 275F for ten minutes.  As always, single layer and blot of excess fat when taken out of the dehydrator.  When using a marinade make sure it does not include oil.


Herbs are great to grow and great to dry.  They can be tied up on the branch and suspended in a cool, dark area or can be separated from the stems and dried between paper towels.  Larger leafed herbs can be dried without stems in an electric food dehydrator.  Some microwave them between paper towels for a minute or two.

Mason jars with screw top lids and Ziploc bags can be used to store dehydrated goods.  Dehydrated meats can also be frozen.  Dehydration makes food highly portable as well. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pressure Canning

PSI refers to pounds of processing your foods in a pressure canner.  There are two types of pressure canners.  The first is a rocker type pressure canner that you find on regular pressure canners, the difference is that the rocker has different weights added to it to achieve different levels of PSI.  There is no gauge.  This is the one I use.

The second is one with a dial.

You need to process most foods in a pressure canner except for the ones listed in water bath canning.  Also if you plan on mixing high acidic foods, tomatoes, with low acidic foods, tomato sauce with meat.  For meat, poultry and seafood I would suggest wide mouth canning jars.  As with water bath canning you need to check and sterilize your jars and lids and make sure they are intact.  Also you will need to make sure your seals, dial and vent are in working order.  You might want to do a test run with just water to make sure.

Some useful canning charts:

Credit NDSU

This is a chart to use with a dial canner:

Credit: NDSU

Beef, poultry and most seafood is cooked first.  Salmon is soaked in a brine.  Again, a good book on canning is an essential tool.  Always adjust cooking time with your altitude.  Never leave a pressure canner unattended.

Basic Beef Stew Recipe:

5 lbs. meat (can use chuck) cut into 1 inch cubes
10 - 12 peeled, cubed potatoes
10 medium carrots sliced
3 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper

Brown meat in a pot, add vegetables, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Fill clean hot pint jars and leave an inch free from the top, make sure air bubbles are out and wipe rim.  Place lids on and screw down with rings until fingertip tight.  Place in pressure canner with three inches of water and put the lid on and lock it.  Process at 10 pounds pressure for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  If you are using a weighted canner it should rock steady.  When time is done, turn off your burner.  DO NOT MOVE THE CANNER.  Let it cool down on it's own.  It could take a while.  Remove lid and let sit another 15 minutes.  Remove jars and let cool down completely.  Test seals, wipe down jars, write date and contents on the lids.  Store in a cool, dark place.  Never reprocess food that hasn't sealed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Water Bath Canning

Photo Credit: CDC

Water bath canning is the easiest way to get started canning.  A typical canning kit consists of an aluminum canner, though they also have stainless steel now, a jar funnel, jar lifter and a rack.

Only certain foods can be water bath canned.  Tomatoes, pickles, jams, jellies, relishes and chutneys.
First step is to use jars made for canning.  I use Ball wide mouth.  Make sure your jars are free of nicks and cracks and sterilize.  If you are sterilizing in your canner boil them for 10 minutes and use your jar lifter to  empty and place on a clean towel on your counter.  In a separate smaller pot I do the same with the lids but I just bring it to a boil and turn it off and let sit until needed. Make sure your rings are clean, washed in hot water and dry.  Another method is to use your dishwasher on the sterilize setting.  The jars need to be hot so as not to crack when you pack them.

While doing this, whatever recipe you are using to can should already be cooking on your stove. 
Bring the water in your water bath canner back up to boiling.  Pack your jars with what you are canning and use a small spatula to run around the inside of the jar and pack down to discourage air bubbles.  Leave about 1/2 inch from the top to allow for expansion.  Place lids on the top of each jar and screw on a lid firmly, not wrenched down, then place in your rack.  Submerge the rack into the bath canner and make sure the water covers two inches on the top.  Processing times vary from size of jar you are using and type of recipe.  Once processing is complete, carefully lift jars out of the canner and place on your clean towel.

Canned jars typically take about 24 hours to cool down but you should hear the tell tale pings of sealing jars before that.  Never store a jar that hasn't sealed, just count it as a loss.  It could be a faulty lid or too much content bubbled to the top compromising the seal.  Best not take the chance.

Once cooled you can wash jars if needed and remove the rings.  Make sure they are dry and store in a cool dark space.  Clean and dry rings for next use. 

Canned food is good for a year but we have used older canned food without problems.  Always check that the lids are not rusted and the food has not spoiled before use.  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your pantry filled with glass jars of food you processed yourself.

A good book about canning is a great investment. 

Hot pack means that you have cooked all ingredients to be filled in jars.
Cold back usually applies to fruit in which the fruit is just cut or placed in jars and a hot syrup is poured over them. Then placed in the canner to process.

A Basic Hot Pack For Tomatoes

You will need close to two dozen tomatoes depending on size.  Clean, peel and quarter saving the juice.  Simmer gently in their own juice, stirring to prevent sticking for 5 to 10 minutes.
Fill clean, sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2 inch of space, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar.  Place clean sterilized lid on each jar and clean canning ring.  Place in rack and lower into pressure canner.  Process for 35 minutes.  Remove with jar lifter and place on clean towel on counter.  Make sure seals set and let cool for 24 hours.  Label and date the contents on the lid.

Never try to short cut the process.  Also a note about glass top stoves.  Some cannot handle the pressure of having a big heavy canner with water.  I have not had trouble but I have read where others have.  A solution to this is an outside propane burner.

It will also help keep the house from becoming overheated while processing food.  I have one but not this particular brand.  As always make sure your work station is clean and jars and lids are sterilized.

Next up:  Pressure Canning

Monday, May 7, 2018

History of Canning

As we begin dying from the second we are born, food begins to spoil from the moment that it is harvested.  Food preservation has always been an issue for survival.

In the 1790's Nicolas Appert discovered like wine, if you put food into heated,  sealed glass bottles it would keep.  In the early 1800's the French Navy elevated his methods on a wide range of foods.
Louis Pasteur discovered the relationship between food spoilage and illness and Raymond Chevalier-Appert patented the first pressure cooker.  Although it is the year 2018, canning foods is a relatively new concept in food preservation.

Canning didn't catch on until the Great Depression into WWII.  There were places called canning centers that would pool resources for canning equipment and jars and set up in rural areas. Aluminum was scarce during the war and jars were expensive.

Statement from Harry S. Truman:

June 2, 1945

IN THIS FOURTH YEAR of war the need for every ounce of food which the American people
can produce and preserve is greater than ever before.

The supply lines to feed our troops and the millions fighting and working with them are the longest
in the history of warfare. Along the thousands of miles of these lines, food must be kept moving.
Our soldiers in Europe are eating more canned fruits and vegetables because they are changing
from combat rations to regular meals.

Beyond our tremendous military requirements lies the task of working with other nations to help
liberated peoples regain their strength and rebuild their countries. There can be no lasting peace in
a hungry world.

We Americans must do our part to help swell the nation's food supply.

I call upon every American to help discharge this obligation in every way possible:

By growing a victory garden--whether it be in the backyard, in a community or company employee
plot, or on the farm. There is still plenty of time to plant in most parts of the country.

By dedicating ourselves to growing larger and better gardens and seeing them through to the

By preserving our food at home or in a community canning center. Civilian supplies of
commercially canned fruits and vegetables are now at the lowest point of the war, and next winter
will be one-fourth less than last year.

By conserving food in every possible way--wasting not an ounce. In anything so hazardous and
difficult as growing food, we cannot afford to take chances. We must always reckon with the
weather, which in some parts of the country delayed plantings and damaged some fruit crops. We
must plan for maximum production.

With millions of American men and women dedicated to this task, our food will make a real
contribution to the final victory and the peace.

With that Victory Gardens and canning took off.  It was our patriotic duty.

Credit:  National Archives

Credit:  USDA

Canning was more popular in the northern states than the southern with it's shorter growing season.  The south soon caught on with relishes and chutneys and found they could can things normally put into the slop bucket. 

Pickled Watermelon Rind

2 lbs. watermelon rind
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. whole allspice
1 lemon sliced thin

Remove all pink portions of watermelon from rind.  Cut into 1 inch pieces and soak in water with 1/4 cup a salt per quart to cover.  Weigh cover and let sit overnight.  Rinse with clean water and drain.  Cook rind in water until tender.  Add spices to a pot with boiling water then add rind and cook until rind is clear.  Pack into hot sterilized jars with juice and seal. 

Directions are a little skimpy and considering how expensive sugar was at the time not very economical but it must have made the person canning this feel as if they were saving and contributing to the pantry.

Canning food has experienced a bit of a resurgence over the last 10 years as people want to learn a new skill and be more self-sufficient.  Gone are the times of being afraid of a pressure caner blowing up....ok, I was a little afraid of pressure canning, but with the modern tweak of a safety valve, it is a relatively safe endeavor.

Next up:  Water Bath Canning

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Lavender Oil

I would be remiss after having a post about Roman Chamomile if I did not provide one for Lavender Oil.  In 1910 a French chemist burned his hand and used lavender oil to treat the burn. Afterwards he used lavender oil on WWI soldiers.

Lavender oil, Lavandula angustifoilia, if you are starting out can provide a multitude of benefits.  A little bit goes a long way.  It only takes a drop on a bee sting, one or two for a minor cut or burn. Diluted in carrier oil, it can be used on eczema or chapped skin and lips.  Lavender oil can be used in cooking and flowers can be added to salads.  It can also be added to homemade cleaning products.

It can be inhaled to calm, to perfume, and to aid in sleep.  Chamomile, Neroli and Lavender make a nice blend to calm down and encourage better sleep. One or two drops of Lavender can be combined with most essential oils.

There are other ways in which ingesting Lavender oil can help with leaky gut and other ailments but I have only used it topically. 

Lavender oil is a solid economical oil to add to your medicine cabinet.

Morel Mushrooms

If you have never had a Morel you are missing out. The Morchella genus is a meaty, woodsy, textured mushroom that has enchanted and allured many a mushroom hunter.  They grow in pastures, wooded areas and in places where there had been a summer burn the previous year. 

Are Morels good for you?

From Untamed Feast:

Absolutely. Morels are loaded with all kinds of nourishment not listed by the required nutrition facts table of Canadian Food labels. As morels tend to grow in rich soils they come packed with vitamins and minerals. While the nutrition can vary based on the soil they are found in, morels will generally contain significant amounts of Iron, Copper, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, Vitamin D, Folate, Niacin, Riboflavin and a decent dose of Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Selenium, Thiamine, Vitamins E and B6.
Morels are also loaded with antioxidants, balance blood sugar, and repair liver-damage. Plus, they are high in protein and fiber.

I have been unlucky in finding Morels but my brother-in-law has been a Morel hunter for many years.  He does not share his locations, as is common, but has shared his bounty with me. Over the years his territory has increased.  When friends and neighbors are too old to hunt for their own, they tell him where they hunt and he hunts for them.  It is sad, either they do not have family to share their location with, or their children are not interested in the hunt.  My sister-in-law dries them in the sun on a screen and every once in a while I get a package of dried Morels.
You can use a dehydrator to dry them but heat will destroy them. You will know if they turn black.

Morels command a pretty decent price.   Morel prices are high because they cannot be farmed.  Just like crops there are good years and bad years. You can also buy dried Morels online.

I keep it simple with Morels.  I just make a basic cream of mushroom soup.  I rehydrate Morels in water enough to cover in a pot.  I add a little cream a dash of salt and pepper and whisk together.  A teaspoon or two of flour if there is too much liquid.

Roman Chamomile

Roman Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile,  is one of my favorite essential oils. 
Having been used for centuries, it works wonders on the nervous system.
As an essential oil it is always diluted in a carrier oil.  It can also be combined with lavender for an extra calming effect.

It can be used topically on stress points, arthritic areas, and for abdominal problems.  Use on a cotton ball for acne and wrinkles.  It can be diffused to fill a room or a couple of drops on a pillow.  For extra convenience it can be inhaled directly from the bottle.  It helps reduce anxiety and improves sleep.  I have used cooled tea made from Roman chamomile for stye on the eye.  It is gentle enough to use for children.

Can it help with cancer?

From The UMC:

Most evaluations of tumor growth inhibition by chamomile involve studies with apigenin which is one of the bioactive constituents of chamomile. Studies on preclinical models of skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer have shown promising growth inhibitory effects (39–43). In a recently conducted study, chamomile extracts were shown to cause minimal growth inhibitory effects on normal cells, but showed significant reductions in cell viability in various human cancer cell lines. Chamomile exposure induced apoptosis in cancer cells but not in normal cells at similar doses (18). The efficacy of the novel agent TBS-101, a mixture of seven standardized botanical extracts including chamomile has been recently tested. The results confirm it to have a good safety profile with significant anticancer activities against androgen-refractory human prostrate cancer PC-3 cells, both in vitro and in vivo situation (44).

If you have time read the whole study, it lists different maladies in which it has been proven to help and the areas where more research is needed.

Roman Chamomile essential oil it is more expensive than Lavender but it is well worth having in your medicine cabinet.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Guest Post; Ear Infections

Note: This is a guest post from Aggie over at Should Be Limited blog, we're hoping she becomes a regular contributor.

Ear Infections

When I was young, I don't think I got through a year without having an ear infection. I even remember being rushed to a doctor in the middle of the night and seeing him in his pajamas and robe while he treated me for one once. I wanted to spare my children of this as much as possible.

You may have heard of Sweet Oil. Sweet Oil is an old timey remedy. It is olive oil. Some add garlic oil or almond oil to the olive oil. Warmed slightly it is added one to two drops to the ear.
A lesser known oil is Mullien oil. Mullien oil, Verbascum Thapsus, is made by using the the flowers of the Mullien plant. It is usually infused with olive oil. This is the oil that did the trick for us. I stumbled upon this in a book I read years ago. I couldn't get to the health food store fast enough to buy a bottle. I put two drops in my own ear first to make sure I wasn't to make sure it wouldn't be harmful. I always told unless you need deborax drops to clear up ear wax never put anything in your ear. My daughter was the first to come down with an ear infection. Fever and pain. I put a drop of Mullien oil in her ear and gave her a dose of Motrin. We actually had a wellness visit the next day and she was fine. I told the doctor she had an ear infection the night before and he could find no sign. I told him about the Mullien oil and he said I should not put anything in the ear. 

I wish I knew about this when I had my first child. I haven't had a child on antibiotics for an ear infection since I found Mullien oil. My husband has had frequent ear infections, knows when one is coming on and we apply as needed. The Mullien oil I have is shelf stable so I do not warm it. Children 10 and under place 1 drop in the infected ear. Adults 2. If it is still painful, do seek medical attention. A coworker asked to try it and to be honest it did not help him but he let it go for too long and the side of his face was already swollen and it took two rounds of antibiotics to clear up.

Woodsman's note; This spring and summer we'll be collecting large quantities of Mullien from its natural state and creating several remedies including oils for ear infections as well as cough syrups.