Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy 18th Birthday, Michele!

Happy Birthday to my Daughter, Michele. 

As I Watch You Grow

Do you know how much you mean to me?
As you grow into what you will be.
You came from within, from just beneath my heart
it's there you'll always be though your own life will now start.
You're growing so fast it sends me awhirl,
With misty eyes I ask, Where's my little girl?
I know sometimes to you I seem harsh and so unfair,
But one day you will see, I taught you well because I care.
The next few years will so quickly fly,
With laughter and joy, mixed with a few tears to cry.
As you begin your growth to womanhood, this fact you must know,
You'll always be my source of pride, no matter where you go.
You must stand up tall and proud, within you feel no fear,
For all you dreams and goals, sit before you very near.
With god's love in your heart and the world by its tail,
You'll always be my winner, and victory will prevail.
For you this poem was written, with help from above,
To tell you in a rhythm of your Mother's heartfelt Love!

                                                                                             © Kay Theese

Love Ya Shell-Bell!

Monday, December 27, 2010

After Christmas Deals

Today I was surfing to see what kind of deals I could find. I received a gift card for Christmas and was just checking our my options when I came across this:

Steam Juicer
Reg. Price $189.99  I got it for $24.86 + shipping

Can you believe it! This is such an Awesome Deal!

These are so neat. They allow you to just put in whole fruits. You don't have to cut, core, or peel. Just wash and add to the basket. Then allow the steam to extract the juice of the fruits to make a clear juice for canning; juice, jellies, marinara sauces, etc. Plus, you can use to steam veggies or as a standard stock pot. Multiple uses from one item. That is what I like; items that I can use in many different functions.

I can't wait to get this here, so that I can CAN up lots of wonderful things.

I then was looking at other the canning supplies and considered getting bulk pectin, clear jel, jar flats, or several different books (I love books), but then I came across this:

Steam Canner

Price: $39.98 + FREE shipping

This is something that I have wanted for some time now.  Since, I do so much canning all year round these use only a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the water that doing a Boil Water Bath does. The steam reaches a temperature of greater that 212 degrees, which is what boiling water is, in only a couple of minutes. Versus using more water and more time and longer processing; which is what I am doing now. This is going to be such a time and energy saver.

Hurry up and get here! I can't wait to use you!

So there you have it. I spent my gift card and got two wonderful new items that I hope to get years and years of enjoyment, functionality and use out of.  Have you found any deals? Did you get anything for Christmas that you are totally excited about? Or that you have had on your wish list? Share, please!

If I can CAN then you can CAN!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflecting on Christmas 2010

This Christmas season has come and gone. The anticipation of lots of food, fun, gifts and family gatherings has been swept away in what seemed like only a fleeting moment in time. What remains though are the wonderful memories made, family relationships renewed and strengthened, and the love shown to one another. These are are the things that really matter. The time spent with family and friends and the love given freely to others. Just as God did when he sent His son, Jesus, to be born on earth as a man. The One to whom we celebrate during the Christmas season.

In the eyes of the world around us, our family's Christmas was slim, to say the least. There were not loads of presents under our tree for everyone. Some of the gifts were even Thrift Store or Tag Sale finds. But you know what? That didn't matter. There was so much laughter, joy, fun and love that was shown and shared that my children didn't mind.

They have learned over the years that it is not what you get, but the manner it which it is given. LOVE. That is the important thing. I am so thankful that my children have learned this lesson early, for they will be able to carry it with them into their adulthood. They will someday be able to share this with their own children.

God has been so good to us this year. He has blessed us in so many ways. He has brought my family through some tough times, but He has always been faithful to provide our needs. Not necessarily our wants, but our needs.

As I reflect over the past year, there have been struggles (financially) and heart-ache (loved ones who died) but, these things do not compare to the Blessings that have been bestowed upon us. We have a roof over our heads. We (Bill and I) have wonderful jobs. We have food on our table. We have our health. We have wonderful children and grandchildren. We have family and friends around us.

Therefore, Our Christmas was one of great Joy. We are able to look back on this year and with grateful hearts know that we have been Blessed. Looking forward to the New Year, we have lots of dreams and plans. Who knows if they all will come to past? Only God knows. But we will leave that up to him.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." Jeremiah 29:11

I do hope and pray that you had a wonderful and joyous Christmas and may you be Blessed during this coming year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Countdown & Home-canned Ketchup with Odd Ingredient

Well there are only 3 days until Christmas and I am sure everyone is busy either finishing up shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning, cooking or all of the above in various combination's. I know that I am trying to get this list under control. I have had the shopping done for a while, but need to wrap. The Baking ~ Done. The Cleaning ~ Never done. The Cooking, well that's today's story.

Yesterday evening, while I was away on business, my family was gifted with 2 large boxes of food. When I got home at around midnight I found 15 lb tomatoes, 12 bunches of bananas, 10 bell peppers, 8 lbs fingerling potatoes, 6 lbs mushrooms, 5 bunches green onions, 4 bags spinach, 3 heads of lettuce, 2 winter squash, 1 bunch asparagus,  and a pomegranate (Nope, NO Partridge in a Pear Tree) on my kitchen counter. Thank you, Lord for this Abundant Blessing.....

I know, I know, some of you are wondering by now (especially if you have been reading my post for a while)...She is always getting gifted with fresh fruit and veggies. Yes, I do. Almost weekly. It is a wonderful blessing of which I am very thankful for. It really helps with the food bill. The most rewarding part though is that we get to gift it to others as well, either as fresh fruit and veggies that I can't use or preserve before going bad or through home-canned items.

Needless to say though, that this is a lot of food and it needs to be worked up within the next 24 hours. So tonight after work, we got busy. Now my kitchen is thrashed, but we have 5 quarts potatoes canned, 4 pints mushrooms canned, 7 quarts stewed tomatoes canned, and the bell peppers, spinach, and green onions are all blanched, cut and into the dehydrator. That just leaves the bananas, plus the few odd pieces which we will incorporate into our lunch and dinners over the next few days.

Bananas, Bananas, Bananas....I get these gifted a lot. Now I'm not complaining mind you, but I am well stocked in Banana Jams, Butters and Preserves, plus I have given lots of those items away as gifts this year. So I am in need of something new to do with all these bananas.

By the way, I do have a freezer full (for smoothies and banana bread) and a bunch dehydrated (for instant snacks) for those of you who are thinking about those solutions. Thus, I am still in need of a NEW way to preserve them.

 I usually get a pretty good supply every couple of weeks and if they are in decent shape I pass them out to family and neighbors. Because of my knowing this and the fact that I didn't want more sugary items, I had already been doing some research on other ways to use them. Guess what I found?.......Banana Ketchup.  Yes, you read that correctly, Banana Ketchup.

I curled my nose up at it too. Just like you are doing right now as you are reading this. But hey, I am desperate here. Unless I go into business making and selling Banana Jam (that's an idea!) I have to try different things. Right? So I said to myself, "The bananas were free. You have the ingredients. It wouldn't really cost hardly anything but time. Why not give it a shot and see how it turns out." So I did. I was pleasantly surprised and so was My Knight.

I wouldn't tell him what I was concocting until I had a finished product. But you should of seen his reaction when he came into the kitchen and saw mashed bananas and chopped onions in the same pot. He gave me this incredibly strange look and said, "I don't even want to know, do I?" My reply was, "Nope, you don't. Not until it is finished."

After I had a finished product, I asked My Knight to come taste it. Boy, was he shocked.

He has concluded that this would be an excellent sauce for grilled chicken, burgers and steaks. There you have it. It past the test. Whoosh, am I glad. Because the Knight is real finicky, if it passes his taste test, I know it is good and will get used.

His conclusion is that it tastes more like a BBQ Sauce than Ketchup. Okay, I can live with that. So, I guess I have found a NEW way to use up all the bananas now. Guess what everyone on my list will be getting this time next year for gifts????

Banana Ketchup AKA Banana BBQ Sauce basic recipe from
Banana Ketchup aka BBQ Sauce
5 or 6 ripe bananas, mashed equaling 2 cups
2 medium onions, very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice
1 dash ground cloves
water, as needed
1 teaspoon red food coloring, to make it look more like commercial ketchup (opt)

My additions 
In the first batch I added:

2 to 4 tablespoons of Red Hot Buffalo Sandwich Sauce, I just emptied the bottle into it.

In the second batch I added:
2 to 4 tablespoons of commercial ketchup, I didn't measure, just gave it a few good squeezes.

Peel and mash the bananas or you can puree them in the blender. Chop the onions very fine. Place all ingredients into a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Cook on med-high until onions are softened, stirring frequently to keep from sticking to bottom. Wait for the mixture to cool off a bit, then run through a food processor or blender to get a more smooth ketchup-like consistency. You will want to do this in small batches to get the onions pureed into a nice smoothness. If it gets too thick, add a little water. If it cools down too much, reheat to the simmering point and pack into sterile jars with 1/2 inch head space. Place on lid and ring. Process in BWB for 5 to 10 minutes.

Happy Holidays!

Family Christmas Gathering #2

This past Sunday we gathered at my parents home to celebrate the holidays with my Mother's side of the family. If all would have been there we would had 38 people in her tiny house. But instead we only had 32 people there. WE MISSED know who you are.

There was lots and lots and lots of food....We all ate too much. I know i did.  We each had to catch up on everyone 's lives, work, kids, etc. I always love getting together. We don't get together enough.

As always, the men gather in the living room watching a ball game of some sort. It is usually really quite in the room until a something significant (in their eyes) happens on the TV i.e. fumble, touchdown, goal, foul, etc. Then they hoop-n-holler at the TV, then make comments to each other. It is so funny to set back and watch this male bonding...the silent version.

Then there are us ladies, we all gather in the dining room or kitchen as talk, talk, talk.  We talk about everything. Life, health, cooking, kids, work, clothes, homes, decor, etc. You name it we have probably talked about it. Sometimes we get to laughing so hard we cry....

Then there are the kids....they play together, tattle on each other, pick on one another, make up, and play some more. In and out of the rooms and house. This includes both the BIG and the little kids.

All in all though it is always a wonderful time.

Merry Christmas....may you be able to enjoy you extended family during the Holiday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Homemade Candy Canes

My DD enjoys working in the kitchen. Which I think is wonderful. Everyday she is learning life skills that will someday bless her own family. As we were making items to take to the family Christmas gathering the other day, she remembered that we use to make Candy Canes when she was littler. She asked if we could make them again. Sure, why not.

So we gathered the ingredients and began. As she started cooking and watching the candy thermometer she asked, "Mom, what is the story behind the Candy Cane? I know it has something to do with Jesus and a Shepard." She is right it does have something to do with those and more.

A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would remind people of the true meaning of Christmas; so he made the candy cane to incorporate several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and the firmness of the promises of God.
The candymaker then shaped his cane into the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to the earth as Savior. It could also represent the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down to to reclaim the fallen lambs who, like sheep, have gone astray.
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
We shared and talked about the Candy Cane story as we prepared our own Homemade Candy Canes. Now this candy is no "walk in the park". The pulling process is quite intense and HOT. We both wore latex gloves and kept switching off during the "pulling", because our hands and fingers would get so hot from the "molten" sugar syrup. But, we did it and we have a final product.

Now please don't be a critic and say, "They don't look anything like the store kind." True, they don't look like them. But I tell you what, if you tasted one you would like them so much better that the commercial variety. Maybe it is because of the lack of preservatives and chemicals, but I like to think it is due to the LOVE and TIME put into them. They aren't perfect but they taste good.

Candy Canes

3 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Red food coloring
latex gloves

Generously grease several cookie sheets with butter or oil. You will need at least 3 or use platters. (DO NOT use anything plastic. This stuff will melt through it until it cools down.)  Preheat your oven to the lowest temp you have 150 to 200 degrees.

Combine the sugar, syrup and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Begin heating the mixture up on medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved. Place candy thermometer into mixture, raise heat just a little and let it get to the soft-cracked stage, 285 degrees F. NOTE: this stuff is extremely hot and will cause severe burns, so please be very careful especially if you have little ones around watching.

When the temperature is reached remove from the heat. Add the extract and stir in. Pour half the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and place in the oven. This will keep the mixture from hardening on you. Now add several drops of the red coloring and mix well. Pour the red mixture onto a greased marble cutting board (this works the best) a heat-safe cutting board or large heat-proof platter, just make sure it is greased well.

Let it set just a minute to for a "skin". Put on gloves and grease them up with butter or oil. Using a greased scrapper or the edge of a large metal spatula begin to turn the candy onto itself. This will help it cool down faster. Once, it gets cool enough for you to handle (it still will be hot) begin pulling. Take the candy in both hands and pull the hands in opposite directions, stretching the candy into a long rope. Bring the ends of the strands together and twist the candy into a rope, then pull the rope out into a long strand. Continue to twist and pull the candy until it has a satin-like finish and is an opaque red color. Once the candy is still pliable but barely warm, pull it into a strand about 2” thick, and place it on the remaining prepared baking sheet. Put this sheet back into the oven, turn off the heat, and remove the baking sheet with the other half of the candy syrup. The pulled candy will remaining pliable in the warm oven while you work the second portion.

Remove the other cookie sheet of candy and repeat the process. At the end, the candy should be a pearly white color. Form it into a log 2” in diameter, just like the red candy. 

Remove the red candy from the oven. Cut a 4-inch segment from the white and the red log, and place them next to each other. Begin to pull the candies together, twisting gradually to form the familiar candy stripes. Once the twisted candy is the thickness you want, use oiled kitchen shears to cut them to approximately 8” lengths. Immediately form the hook at the top of the cane, and place it on a baking sheet to set at room temperature.

Repeat the twisting with the remaining candy. If the candy gets too hard to pull, place it in the warm oven for a few minutes to soften, but don’t let it sit too long and melt. The candy canes will get very hard at room temperature, but if left out for long periods of time they will get soft and sticky, so be sure to wrap them in cellophane once they are set.

I told you it was a process, but one that is gratifying. Knowing that you can make it. DD did a wonderful job. She stuck right in there until the end. But now that I think about it....Where was she when the "Clean-up" started....It seems like every time it time to start the dishes everyone disappears...Does that happen at your house too?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Husbands Twinkling Eye...Over Key LIme Pie

After making all the Christmas candy yesterday, I had a lot of reserved egg yolks leftover since the Divinity only requires the egg whites. What was I to do with them? I don't like to waste anything, thus I need to use them up some how.

As I stood in front of the opened refrigerator door this morning contemplating how to use them, what to my wondering eye should appear?  A jar of Limes that were left over in the fridge from when I home-canned a batch up a week or so ago. Limes and egg yolks, hummmmmm.....Key Lime Pie.  One of My Knights favorite desserts (as if we need more sweet things this time of year). Oh well, he will be excited and seeing that twinkle in his eye when he sees what I made will be all worth.

I quickly whipped together a Key Lime Pie this morning, before the whole house woke up and got moving about. Don't you just love the early mornings when no one is stirring about? The house is quite and still at rest. It is so peaceful. That is the time of day that I really enjoy. I know that everyone is still tucked snug in bed and are safe. None of the electronic devices have yet started to consume our day i.e., cell phones, computers, video games, TV, etc. Life is simple and relaxed at that time of day.

Back to my pie....

This pie is so quick and easy. I thought I would share it with you all here.

Just out of the oven, still steaming hot.
Key Lime Pie Made Simple

5 egg yolks
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk or homemade sweetened condensed milk (I share how in another post)
1/2 cup key lime juice or any lime juice you have
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (Except I used a standard pie dough)
I think I told you before that I never make a recipe just like it says. Here's the proof. ;-)

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Mix well. Pour into the unbaked graham cracker shell or unbaked pie dough shell. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until filling is set. Allow to cool. Top with whipped topping and garnish with a slice of lime if desired. Yum, Yum.....Enjoy.

I do hope you enjoy your day.

P.S. As I was typing this up my Knight came into the kitchen and asked, "What are you making, Dear?" I replied, "A Key Lime Pie."   He asked excitedly, "You made ME a Key Lime Pie?"  "Yes, Honey I did." was my answer. You should have seen that "twinkle in his eyes"".  He asked if we had whipped cream, if so could he have some now....No, Honey, you must wait until it cools before you can eat it.

See I told you it would be worth it.....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day of Candy Making & Giveaway Winner!

Today was a day (morning) spent in the kitchen here at Rose Bud Cottage. We were making preparations for a Christmas gathering tomorrow with my Mom's side of the family. Each year about 36 of us gather together to celebrate Christmas, catch up on family tales and what is happening in everyone's lives. It is always a great time.

This year my Mom is the "Host", so we will all be gathering in her home. She has asked each home represented to bring a dessert and an appetizer. Since Michele (DD) and I like to cook, we tend to go overboard. We prepared a Cherry Chiffon Cake, Pecan Pralines (Mom's favorite), Divinity Candy, and a Italian Pizza Cup Appetizer.

Making candy is always a favorite thing for DD and I to do during the holiday season. Plus, homemade candy just taste so much better. I have the proof from, a 16 year-old food critic, my son. so, I thought I would share the candy recipes with you we made today.

Pecan Pralines

1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
1 teaspoon vanilla

In heavy saucepan combine sugars, baking soda, buttermilk, and salt. Stir over low heat until sugars are dissolved. Boil over moderate heat until candy thermometer registers 230 degrees F. Remove from heat. Add butter, nuts and vanilla.  Beat candy until it starts to become thick and slightly sugary. Then place saucepan on low heat to prevent candy from becoming to hard before it is dropped into patties.  Dip by tablespoonful onto waxed paper, forming patties about 3 inches in diameter. Cool. Remove from paper and store in air tight container. Makes about 15.

 Divinity Candy

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (opt)

Heat sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook without stirring until syrup when dropped in cold water forms a hard ball (250 degrees F). 
Beat egg white. Pour syrup slowly into them and continue to beat until candy is stiff enough to hold its shape. Add nuts and vanilla. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or turn into buttered pan and cut in 1 inch squares when firm. Once cooled keep covered because it dries out quickly.
Cherry: Prepare recipe as above. Color delicate pink with food coloring. Add 1/2 cup chopped candied cherries.
Chocolate: Prepare recipe as above. After syrup and eff whites have been combined, add 2 squares ( ounces) melted unsweetened chocolate.
Maple: Use above recipe, but decrease water to 1/4 cup. Add 3/4 cup maple syrup.
Orange: Use recipe above. Add 3 tablespoons coarsely grated orange rind with vanilla and nuts.

Do you do a lot of baking or candy making during the holidays? If so, what kinds of items do you like to make or that you make for you family. One other item we will be making is Peanut Brittle. My husband loves the stuff, but the store bought is so hard. I make it so that it is a softer texture and more easily eaten.

CONGRATULATIONS go to DebDoo!!!   She was the closets guess to the number of Home-canned (jarred) items that I have in my pantry inventory last week. I have a total of 527 jars.  DebDoo  give me a shout so that I can get your jar of Banana Split Preserves to you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where's The Line to See Jesus?

New song for Christmas....A must see.

*Click Here to enter in to my giveaway. Deadline is Friday, Dec, 17th at mid-night.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy 16th Birthday, Kendall!

My Baby Boy turns 16 today. They grow up too fast.

To My Son

Oh how the years go by,
Oh how time can certainly fly.
From once just a thought in far away dreams,
now into my arms and in my eyes gleam
the presence of you.
Your laughter and smiles
which go on for miles,
warms my heart and soul.
You're growing up so fast,
as I wish each moment with you to last forever.
My little boy will someday be a man
and right by your side I will forever stand.
I will pick up the pieces when you fall,
I will hold your hand and help you stand tall.
And when the day comes when you are on your own,
never feel that you are alone.
No matter how near or far apart
I am always right there in your heart.
Always remember whatever you go through
that no matter what, I will always love you.
- Amy R. Campbell

***Don't forget to enter your guess for the giveaway. By going to the post of Dec. 12th (Organizing Larder)***


Monday, December 13, 2010

Homemade Biscuit Mix w/multiple uses and variations

I am going to make a huge assumption here. I am willing to take a risk in saying that most of the homemakers across America have made or make biscuits, muffins, pancakes, or waffles. These standard staple bread items of the average house are great for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

How do we go about making these? Well, a good majority will use a mix that was purchased from the grocer where all one does is add water or milk, stir and bake. This is easy, but can be expensive. Or we have individual recipes for each item and sometimes multiple recipes for each item.

What if I told you there was a recipe that you could make a mix at home that would work for all 4 of the items; biscuits, muffins, pancakes, and waffles.  Would you be interested? I was when I came across it in a 1958 cookbook set that I recently acquired; Encyclopedia of Cooking Volume 2 authored by Mary Margaret McBride.

Because I don't make these items everyday, I cut the recipe in half. This gives me enough mix to make on average 4 batches of something. I can keep the mix fresh with making less. Oh, and it stores well in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

There recipe is as follows:
Homemade Biscuit Mix

8 cups sifted enriched all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup shortening

1. Mix and sift flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl.
2. Have shortening at room temperature. Cut it into flour mixture with pastry blender or fork until mixture is like coarse corn meal.
3. Store in a closely covered container.
4. Mix will keep 3 to 4 weeks in a cool cupboard and much longer in a refrigerator.
5. Rich Homemade Biscuits: Sift in with the flour 1 cup dried/powdered skim milk.

To make 6 Biscuits: Measure 1 cup biscuit mix into a bowl. Stir in 1/4 to 1/3 cup milk. Using a fork until mixture cleans side of bowl and rounds up into a ball. Turn out on lightly floured board. Knead gently 1/2 minutes. Roll or pat out dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut with floured biscuit cutter. Bake on ungreased baking sheet in very hot oven (4750 degree F) 12 to 15 minutes.

To make 6 Muffins: Measure 1 cup biscuit mix into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 well beaten egg, and about 1/2 cup milk. Stirring only until just moistened. Do not beat. Drop batter gently by spoonfuls into greased muffin pans, filling 2/3 full. Bake in hot oven (425 degree F) 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

To make 6 Pancakes: Measure 1 cup biscuit mix. Beat 1 egg well; combine with 1/2 cup milk and 2 tablespoons flour. Add to mix and stir only to dampen flour. Then add more milk to make batter just thin enough to pour. Pour by spoonfuls onto hot, lightly greased or ungreased griddle. Bake until bubbles on top burst. Turn and bake on other side.

To make 6 Waffles: Measure 2 cups mix; add 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 well beaten egg, and 1 1/2 cups milk. Beat liquid ingredients into biscuit mix. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter into waffle iron. Bake 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown.

There you have it. Simple. Inexpensive. Handy. Homemade. No Preservatives.

A rough estimate at what it would cost to make a cull batch of this mix will cost you around $.85 to $1.50 (depending on if you buy generic or name brand). Whoa! What a savings compared to the store bought stuff at $4 plus dollars a box.

So if you are looking for a way to cut back on you grocery bill, I would recommend giving this a try

***Don't forget to make your guess of how many jars of home-canned goodness we have on hand. Go to yesterday evenings post (Organizing Larder) and leave your guess in the comments.***

Happy Savings!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Organizing Larder (Pantry) & Giveaway

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have canned about 50 jars of items which left my long kitchen counter cover with jars and no place to put them. Today I was on a mission to find more space to house the jars. With that in mind, My Knight and I tackled the pantry closet and wall.

We took nearly everything out of the pantry. Made sure all jars had labels (food item & year canned). Moved newer jars to the back and older jars to the front. We organized by type of food (i.e. Vegetables, Fruits, Meat, Soups, Juices, Tomato products, Jelly's and Jam's, etc.).

I usually tackle this kind of project a couple times of year. Even though it starts out like this, with 4 cooks in the house it never stays like this more than four to six months. If I don't do this then I would never know what I had or the older items would not get used timely and possibly ruin.

After organizing the Pantry Closet, we (I) moved over to the Pantry Wall. My Knight puttered out and moved on to other things. I took everything off the shelves and dusty them and the jars. Then as I put back the items I put them together with like items, making sure that all jars were labeled. This can be time consuming, but in the end it looks great. Anybody can find what they need. And I get a feeling of satisfaction of a job well done.

While we were putting items into place in both the Pantry Closet and Wall, I would write down how many quarts, pints, half-pints or quarter-pints I had of each item. From that list I updated a spreadsheet that I have created for each pantry area. Listing all items in each area with the appropriate amounts for each jars by size using a right slash mark. Then as I use an item, I make a left slash mark making an X in the box. There are also extra boxes for me to add items.

This is a very simple type of inventory control, but it works for me. Plus, the kids & my Knight can follow it well. I do print out the inventory sheets and attach them to the fridge for easy access and up keep. By organizing and setting up an inventory sheet, I am able to count how many jars that I still had available for use of any item listed. This makes life so much easier than searching through a ton of jars each time I need to know it I have something left or not.

Here is the Giveaway part. To the person who guesses the "closest" to the number of home canned items I have in my pantry, I will give them a jar of Banana Split Preserves. This stuff is delish!

You have from now until Friday, December 17, 2010 at mid-night to make a guess by leaving your entry in the comments section of this post. Good Luck!

Hugs for Everyone - Family Christmas Gathering #1

Yesterday afternoon, We attended the first of four Christmas gatherings that we will have this year. Today's was with my Father's side of the family.  It is always a fun time getting together with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and others, most whom we haven't seen very often throughout the year. 
Because our family has grown so much over the past several years, the kids draw names and the adults just bring a gift for a gift game. I call it "Chinese Christmas", but I know there are other names for it. Where everyone draws numbers and you get to pick a gift to open or steal an already opened gift from someone else.
This year the kids got some "cool" things and were giving the giver extra hugs. It was fun to watch the kids so willingly loving on their cousins and expressing thanks.

A good time was had by all. We had WAY too much food. We got to catch up on the "family news". We found out that we will have a new addition to the family next July.  Shhh...I am not suppose to tell (at least I won't say who). Plus, we got to spend one more Christmas with my Great Aunt Ennie and Great Uncle Ron.

When it was time for the adults to do their gift game, I got stuff stolen from me 4 times. I guess that means I make good choices, because everyone kept wanting my gifts. In the end, I got one of my gifts back that was stolen from me. It was garden stakes (made by my Great Uncle) and garden seed. Oh Yeah!  I have a jump start on my garden and it is only it is going to look so pretty with those row stakes.

So Happy Early Christmas to All!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bountiful Week

It has been one crazy week around here. Besides being very busy with work projects and just the everyday norm, we were blessed on Tuesday evening with a bounty of food which means preserving it all before it spoiled. We were gifted small box full of potatoes, a sack full of carrots, a bag full of limes, some jalapenos and bell peppers. Much more than we could consume in a few days.

Wednesday evening I didn't get home from work until about 7 PM. Due to the lateness, I really wasn't planning on canning. To by surprise, when I walked in the door, My Knight had 7 quart jars washed up and filled with potatoes. They were just waiting for the final touches (salt and water) and to be pressured. Isn't he Mr. Wonderful????? ...well, I think so.

No canning on Thursday, just too busy with work. I took Friday off from work and focused all day long in the kitchen. I got up early started with 7 more quarts of potatoes. Then moved onto carrots. I canned 6 quarts of carrots. Then, 4 quarts of potato/carrot mix. 

My final canning adventure of the day was the limes. I have never canned just straight limes, usually I would make a jelly or dehydrate lime slices. I had plenty of both those, so I opted on canning just the limes by themselves. By noon, I was peeling limes. Boy those little things are hard to peel. I thought i was never going to get them all done. I then pulled them into segments. Jarred them up and added water. BWB for 10 minutes. Done. 5 pints of limes in juice. Awesome! Now we can have lime-aide, lime juice, or key lime pie.
Don't you just love the variety that you can have by canning your own? I do. I can make it to my families specifications and likes. I can mix things up, like canning potatoes and carrots together. The convenience of having the two in one jar makes it nice when it is just My Knight and I for dinner. I can open one jar heat it through and have 2 veggies.

Also, I washed, de-seeded and sliced up the bell peppers and jalapenos and placed them in the dehydrator. Ummmm....I was totally exhausted (mostly feet), but delighted that see all that bounty preserved in those beautiful jars.

We have been so blessed this year with venison, fruits and vegetables that my larder is full and running over. I think I am going to have to turn my upstairs linen closet into a pantry. Hummmm...Honey, I have a new project for you!!!

Happy Canning!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More Peaches.....

 More peaches!!! Yes, more peaches. Within the last two weeks or so we have been gifted with lots (I mean lots) of Tango Peaches. Thus, the dilemma was how to use them and not let them go to waste.

So for the past few post, I have been sharing some of the creative ways I canned up a variety of peach delicacies. Now I am not one to waste anything if I can help it. (I cut the end off the toothpaste tube to get the last little bit out) I know, pretty obsessed with getting the most out of everything.

How does that relate to peaches? If you have read the previous post for this week you have read about how my family spent the day in the kitchen processing meat and canning. That day I peeled and cut up approximately 20 pounds of peaches, which means I had peelings and pits from all those peaches. Waste not, Want the motto.

So I took all those peelings and pits and put them in a large stock pot and added just enough water to cover. Placed on the stove and brought it all to a boil. Covered and allowed it to boil at a steady pace for about 20 minutes. Then I strained all that rich Peach Juice out into another pan. Returned the juice to the stove and added sugar to taste and a touch (1/4 cup) lemon juice. Heated it through until the sugar had dissolved. Then I ladled it into jars and processed in a BWB for 20 minutes for quart jars. This yielded 3 quarts and 1 pint jar of rich pure Peach Juice (no chemicals added).  
Peelings & pits being cooked down to juice.

Happy Canning,

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