Just because I am retired doesn't mean that I don't need a vacation now and then. I seem to have hit a brick wall when it comes to writing. So I am taking time away from the computer to relax and refresh. I am not going anywhere, but daydreams put me on a sunny beach with a fruity, paper umbrella enhanced drink in one hand and a good mystery novel in the other. I truly appreciate those of you who stop by this silly little blog. I will be back in a week or two.
"The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star Sirius, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere." - Wikipedia
That seems to describe the mood here in my little Home Sweet Apartment. Except that our weather hasn't been all that hot, with temps in the 80's during daylight hours and the humidity at mid-range. Of all the descriptive words used above, I think that 'lethargy' best describes it. My 'get-up-and-go' seems to have 'got-up-and-went.'
I have been doing just enough of the housekeeping chores to keep my apartment from reaching pig-sty status. Otherwise it has been naps and reading and naps and entering data into my genealogy program and naps. I think this might just continue over the weekend and with any kind of luck I may acquire some energy by Monday. I have several projects waiting for me to wake up enough to do them. Until that happens, those folks listed in the sidebar are leading lives much more exciting than mine at the moment. Go visit them and enjoy.
are better than others. This morning is one of those.
Cool enough yet to have my windows open.
Birds singing their little hearts out in the tree outside my window.
Slight breeze bringing fresh air into my apartment.
Rain shower helping to keep the heat at bay, at least for now.
Good cup or two of coffee.
Bacon and eggs for breakfast.
The rest of the day is a crap shoot what with storms and heat predicted, but for now it is a good morning just to be alive.
There are several YouTube channels I like to watch on a regular basis. Some are about artsy craftsy stuff. Others are about quilting. And some fall into the category of homesteading. They include everything from gardening to raising small livestock to food preservation to frugal living and a self-sustaining lifestyle.
One of my favorites is called 'Deep South Homestead' and is done by a couple living in southern Mississippi. I have learned much from watching their videos. At present they are doing a series about financial freedom. Unlike many videos with similar topics, they do not give tips on money management, but rather show how experiences from childhood and beyond can influence the way an adult manages their finances to be debt free.
As I watched their video this morning, it got me to thinking about how the way I was raised was similar in many ways to the things they spoke of and how different things were then from the way they are today.
As a child, the rule was that nobody played until the work was done. That meant that at suppertime, the table was properly set and the family sat down together for the meal. After supper the dishes were cleared, washed, dried and put away. Only then were we free to relax and pursue whatever was of interest to us.
I was 15 years old before our family had a television. Before that, we listened to the serial programs on the radio like Dragnet or Abbot and Costello or Amos 'n Andy. Sometimes we could get musical shows, mostly country or western, my Dad's favorites. Whether it was radio or television, mother believed it was a sin to just sit and watch or listen, so I always was doing something at those times. Maybe it was knitting a scarf or hemming a skirt or embroidering a dish towel, but my hands were never idle. I have continued along those lines to this day.
If a person kept animals of any kind, their needs came first. No matter if it was raining or if there was a blizzard raging, the animals had to be fed, watered and their living areas had to be kept clean. Only when these tasks were accomplished could a person even think about their own needs.
Gardens were more than just a hobby. The produce grown was essential to keeping the family fed over the winter months and until the garden of the following year began producing. Early mornings would find us weeding. That was also the time of day when vegetables were picked, cleaned and made ready for either freezing or canning. When the vegetables were in the freezer or in jars cooling on the counter, then and only then were we free to do what we wanted to do.
Saturday mornings were not for watching cartoons, but were for cleaning the house 'just in case we get company.' Wooden and tile floors were scrubbed, rugs were vacuumed, bed linens were changed, furniture was dusted and bathrooms were made to sparkle. After that there were cakes or cookies to bake to make sure there were treats to go with coffee should any neighbor or relative drop by.
Another thing we were taught that I find sadly lacking today were manners. It didn't matter whether or not we liked an adult, they were treated with respect. 'Yes, Ma'am' and 'No, Sir' was the correct way to respond. We never, ever called an adult by their first names. It was always Miss, Mrs. or Mr. I suppose it might have been easier then because we were clear about gender rolls. The only time first names were acceptable were when addressing Aunt Emily or Uncle Oscar.
I think the whole thing boils down to being taught responsibility. Making sure the garden was well kept insured that we would eat over the winter. Working before playing instilled in us a work ethic that would last a lifetime. And good manners combined with respect for others is what separated us from the savages. All of these things, even those learned as children, went a long way to attaining responsibility in all areas, including financial.
I am tired of listening to celebrities telling me how they think I should live while they are paid millions to pretend to be somebody else.
I am tired of all the reports of people being beaten to a bloody pulp for the crime of wearing a Trump cap.
I am tired of Congress spending so much time trying to get rid of Trump and so little time on doing what we elected them to do.
I am just plain tired of Black Lives Matter for dozens of reasons.
I am particularly tired of California Representative Maxine Waters and her ilk screaming impeachment at every turn.
And I am tired of news articles like the one that set me off on this rant today. It seems that two black ministers are suing Coca Cola because they believe too many persons of color drink too many sodas that cause them to become obese. It's because Coca Cola advertises their products, don't you see.
Let that sink in.
Seems to me that if you drink sodas and you are fat, one thing you could do is, oh I don't know, maybe stop drinking sodas? Of course, that would require some personal responsibility. Can't have that. Being personally responsible means that you have to work on the problem yourself and stop blaming others for your actions.
I can't do anything about any of the above. People are going to be mean and hateful no matter what I say. And so far, I have found no way to fix Stupid. I can't just stop checking the news reports because I think it is important to keep an eye on what is going on in the world. That is part of the preparedness thing.
But I can spend far less time on the headlines and much more time doing what makes me and mine happy. Sounds like a plan to me.
Kicking that well used soapbox back into the corner now.
I know that our temperatures here in Minnesota can't come close to those in the states west of us, but nonetheless, it is hot. And muggy. Staying indoors in my air conditioned apartment is the best possible option. I don't do well with hot and muggy.
I have 10 lbs. of potatoes waiting to be dehydrated and beans ready to be canned up into pork and beans, but I believe they can just wait a while longer. The central air in my building works fine as long as I keep the windows closed and don't run the dehydrators or the stove too much. I am glad that I canned several varieties of soup earlier. Lunches this week will be soup from a jar that I can microwave and maybe a sandwich. The crockpot will be getting a workout this week as it throws off very little heat. I thawed out some chicken legs and will add some broth, a jar of diced potatoes and carrots, some dehydrated onion and let it cook all day. Dumplings added about a half hour before suppertime will make a good meal.
My scrawny bean plants have a few more blossoms on them and so does the cantaloupe. Looks like I should have blossoms opening up on the zucchini in a week or two. So far I haven't killed off any of the plants in my little windowsill garden. I thought for sure I would have murdered at least some of them by now.
Aside from a few minor housekeeping chores, I think it will be quiet here in my little corner of the world. I have sewing projects and books to read and I need to make some entries in my genealogy program. Lots to do without having to deal with the heat and humidity.
So two or three months ago I bought half a dozen one pound bags of Great Northern beans. Thought about taking them out of the original packaging, but got busy and just tossed them into an empty box in my pantry closet. Well, that's not quite true. There may have been some laziness involved.
My grocery order this week included five bags of the dry beans. I brought the box of beans from my pantry out to the kitchen table with the intent of repackaging part of them and using some of the older ones to can up as pork and beans.
To my horror I found the original six bags crawling with little black bugs. And so was the box they were in. I double wrapped the whole shebang in trash bags, sealing the tops with tape. Now they can live in the dumpster and not in my pantry.
So I learned that dry beans should be removed from the original plastic bags to be repackaged, the same as I do with anything I want to store that comes in cardboard packaging. I know that bugs like to hide in cardboard. I didn't know they also like plastic bags full of dry beans.
I opened the five bags I just bought, sorted them to remove any bad beans, put them into freezer bags and stacked them in the freezer where they will stay for a few days, just to make sure nothing is crawling around in them.
We are never too old to learn. I am glad all that lesson cost me was a few bags of beans.
Artistic talent has shown up from time to time in my Mother's side of the family. My Aunt Margaret painted beautiful portraits. I have no examples of her paintings, but I do have this pencil sketch she did of me when I was young.
Uncle Duane painted landscapes. Here is an example of his work.
Sadly, the artistic gene bypassed me. My attempts at drawing or painting looked like something done by a toddler. Sigh.
So I was delighted when I learned of my granddaughter Maddie's interest in painting. She sent me a card thanking me for the birthday money I had sent her and telling me she would use the gift to purchase art supplies. I asked her Dad to take some pictures of her paintings for me.
I would like them even if I weren't her Grandma. Her Dad tells me that she loves to paint. I hope she continues.
Oh, and Maddie May - I'm pretty sure I could find a frame and a blank wall. Just sayin'.
count them - four actual, for real snap beans growing on my three leggy, raggedy looking snap bean plants in the window sill. And I'm not for sure certain, but it looks like the cucumber and zucchini plants might be thinking about setting some blossoms. What I think may be blossoms are tiny, so it will be a while before I know for sure. Hope springs eternal. :)
That's about all the excitement this old heart can stand. The rest of my week and weekend is planned to be pretty quiet and has me dehydrating hash browns and more onions. My grocery order this week includes several bags of Great Northern beans to replace those I have taken out of storage to can into pork and beans. I am using a new recipe so I won't post it unless the finished product is really good. I will do those maybe next week when the outdoor temps cool down a bit.
I did have a nice phone call earlier this week. Granddaughter Boston called to tell me she had passed the test and had received her learner's permit to drive. She was so excited and I am glad she thought to share that excitement with me. David, my youngest son and her Dad, called me a couple of days later and during our conversation remarked that he could barely make it in the door in the evening before Boston was right there asking, 'Can we go for a drive, Dad? Let's go for a drive.' I laughed. I'm sorry. Just couldn't help myself. Especially when I think of the fact that this is the first to learn to drive and there are two more waiting in the wings. I expect one day David will laugh about it, too. But not just yet. :)
when life smacks you upside the head to get your attention and then proceeds to add some difficulties to your life. When you get to be my age, those difficulties are mostly medical.
Those who are regular readers know of my physical limitations because I whine about them periodically. Those new visitors, take heart. I promise to keep the whining about fun stuff like arthritis and cellulitis to a minimum.
To my way of thinking, there are two things a person can do.
The first is to crawl into bed, pull the covers up to your ears and just wait to die.
The second, and my personal choice, is to just to get on with it. Make peace with the fact that life has changed and there is bloody little a person can do about that. So after you get through the initial anger and frustration and periods of weepy self pity, find ways to adapt to the situation.
Everyone has different situations to deal with. Many are much worse than mine. I still have a mind that works - well, sort of. I can still walk - sort of. I can still take care of myself as far as personal hygiene, cooking, keeping my apartment clean enough to stay the health department, etc. But each task needed to be thought out as to how to do it in my present condition.
The hardest part for me was knowing that I was not the Wonder Woman of the past who could work hard from dawn to dark and beyond. That fact pretty much shredded my ego. I have never been one to cry for help unless it was obvious that the task at hand could not be accomplished alone. So having to call on my kids to do for me was not high on my list of things I enjoyed. But, after swallowing some of my pride, I did it. Thankfully I have grown children who are more than willing to help out when needed.
Adapting to current limitations has been a challenge. I know that I can not stand or walk for more than 10 minutes at a time before the arthritic pain becomes overwhelming. So I have learned to do the chores either in ten minute increments or do what I can while seated at my kitchen table. Youngest Son and his family gave me a walker for Mother's Day so I can now leave my apartment and enjoy the outdoors. Admitting to myself that I needed a walker was tough. I have learned that if I do too much one day, I will spend the next day quietly recovering. Sometimes it is worth it - sometimes not.
I believe the most important thing about dealing with limitations is attitude. I suppose I could sit around in a puddle of self pity, but I won't. I haven't the time nor do I have the patience for it. I think that concentrating on what I can do rather than what I can't makes all the difference.
The point of this post is not to dwell on my physical problems, but to encourage anyone out there who is facing life-changing obstacles. If just one person who reads this is able to realize that life, even with limitations, can be good, then this was worth posting. Just do the best you can with what you have to work with.
Oh yeah...keep your sense of humor. Laughter is the very best medicine. Really - it is.
It is one of those busy days. I dehydrated three good sized heads of cabbage, filling the dehydrators last evening. I got about three quarts of dried cabbage, all bagged up and ready to use in soups, etc.
This morning I am browning 12 lbs. of hamburger to jar up and can. I had seen a video about packing raw hamburger into the jars without browning it first, so last time I canned hamburger, I tried that method. It turned out just fine, but I find I like the texture of the precooked meat better. It is just a personal preference.
There are 6 bananas sitting in the fruit bowl on my kitchen table that need to be turned into a couple of loaves of banana bread, so as soon as the pressure canner full of meat is going, banana bread making will commence. I will share a loaf with Oldest Son. He loves banana bread as much as I do. He reads my blog, so I am guessing he will show up tonight after work to collect his loaf without my having to call him.
And that's the extent of the excitement here in my little Home Sweet Apartment. When the chores are done, some sewing will happen. And quite possibly, a nap.
There was a time when I would tease my Dad about his afternoon naps, but the older I get the more I realize, the man was on to something. :)
When I was a kid, it was not unusual for friends or relatives to show up at our house on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. TV was a rare commodity then. My family didn't have one until I was 15 years old. Personal computers and cell phones were somewhere in the future. People went visiting. They sat on front porches and talked about the weather and the condition of the crops and wasn't that daughter of Aunt Ruby's acting just disgraceful with that boyfriend of hers. And when the sun was getting low in the western sky and the visitors showed no signs of leaving, they were invited to stay for supper. And most times, they accepted.
My mother was one of those women who planned. She knew that on Monday she would wash clothes and on Tuesday I would iron them. She planned nothing for Saturday morning except setting her daughters to cleaning the house. If you have ever experienced scrubbing out the corners of a set of stairs with a toothbrush, then you know the extent of my mother's planning. And she knew exactly what each meal would be for a week.
Mother didn't take it well when her plans were disrupted. So it was always a wonder to me how she coped with guests for the supper she had planned for four people. She took it in stride and never batted an eye. Thinking back, I realized how she did it.
If she had a roast beef or a chicken in the oven, she sent one of us kids down to the basement, which doubled as our cold storage area, to bring up more potatoes to be boiled and a handful of fresh carrots to be cleaned and cut into carrot sticks. She had us get a quart jar of dill pickles and a pint jar of relish. And added to that were a couple of jars of home canned peaches for dessert. A plate of homemade baking powder biscuits rounded out the meal, now with enough food for company.
I remember once having supper guests when Mother had made a pot of chili that was enough to feed just our family. Mother calmly cooked up a pot of rice and made a double batch of cornbread. She added a plate of sliced cheese and another of raw carrots, radishes and sliced cucumbers from the garden. She filled bowls half full of rice and topped that off with chili. Dessert was sliced strawberries from the garden, with cream and sugar .
The point is.....Mother was prepared. She was a girl growing up during the Great Depression. After that came the WWII food rationing. Her mother taught her how to stretch a meal. Although my Grandfather was one of the fortunate ones to be employed during the Depression, he still had seven children to feed. That was not always an easy task. My grandparents grew a garden. They canned as much food as they could. My father grew up in a similar environment with the added benefit of living on a farm where they could have meat and milk animals to feed his family of nine children. Both my parents carried on the tradition of preserving as much food as they could in the summer and fall. They passed on that lifestyle to me. One of the best things they taught me was how to stretch a meal.
I don't always have fresh food on hand. I can't raise a garden. But I can go to my shelves and pantry and get the fixings for any number of meals. And like Mother, I keep on hand ingredients to be able to stretch a meal when needed. Just makes sense.
They are growing. By some miracle I have managed to keep them alive - so far.
The cantaloupe, zucchini and cucumbers are flourishing. They have beautiful green leaves and are beginning to spread out.
I have two pots of cherry tomatoes grown from saved seeds. They are slow to grow, but are beginning to leaf out. I thinned them down to about six plants per pot.
The bell peppers finally popped through the soil and have grown a couple of inches.
The green peas are maybe 6 - 8 inches tall and have fallen over, but they are still alive and growing.
And last but not least, the yellow snap beans are setting on blossoms. Amazing! If they form actual beans, there may be enough for a meal.
If the plants are still alive in a week or so, I will take some pictures to post. I was kind of busy today, what with my grocery delivery and getting 12 lbs. of hamburger ready to can tomorrow.
The plants in my little windowsill garden must be tough. They have to be to still live in spite of my abysmal track record with indoor plants. Even if I get nothing off them, it is still fun watching them grow. :)
a really nice week. Temperatures here are in the mid to high 70's and the humidity isn't too bad. It is nice to be able to turn off the air conditioning and open the windows. We had some rain and some sunshine and a lovely breeze.
I canned up the rest of the chicken thighs and got five pints. There was enough broth to fill five quart jars. I have ordered 12 lbs. of hamburger to can. That will be delivered tomorrow. Hamburger is the only meat I am low on, although I probably could use some more bacon bits. The price of bacon has gone through the roof here, so I will have to see if Duane can find some bacon ends and pieces at a reasonable price. I was thinking about canning some bacon slices but not at the current price of $6.99 a pound.
My daughter Jill and grandson Zach stopped over yesterday evening. Zach was all excited. He will be spending a week at Airplane Camp. I asked if the camp was just for instruction or if there would be actual flying involved. He said, with a grin, that they would be flying. Zach has taken flying lessons since he was maybe 12 years old. He needed to sit on a pillow to be able to see out the window of the plane. That's no longer a problem for that over 6 ft. tall 17 year old grandson of mine. I told him that when he gets his pilot's license, he needed to remember that his Grandma loves to fly. I'm not overjoyed with commercial flights, but I dearly love a ride in a small plane. He said he would keep it in mind.
David stopped in a couple of days ago. Both of his daughters have birthdays in June and he said he would pick up the cards I had for them so I wouldn't need to mail them. I think he was actually checking up on me. He knew I hadn't been feeling well and he knows I hate going to the doctor, so he sometimes checks to make sure I don't need make an appointment. I just can't get away with anything! He left yesterday for a conference in Canada, having to do with his job at a landscaping company. He said he was torn...he was looking forward to the conference but he knew he would miss his family while he had to be gone.
Nothing earth shattering or exciting going on here in my little corner of the world. I'm just puttering about with the necessary Susie Homemaker stuff. And in between times the sewing machine is being put to good use. That's pretty much the story of my life and I like it that way. :)
I watched Boston dance at the National competition via live stream. She did very well as did her whole studio group. Even though the picture quality on the live stream isn't the best, I can still pick her out of a crowd and follow her dance steps. Loved every second of it.
I did some sewing in between Boston' dances. I finished sewing the pieces together to make these blocks.
Now I just need to sew the blocks together and then add the batting and backing before quilting. So many now use quilting machines or even use their sewing machines to do the final quilting, but I am old fashioned, I guess. I like the look of hand quilting, even though it takes longer to finish.
I don't do fancy art quilts like so many who enter their quilts in quilt shows. Mine are strictly utility quilts that are made for warmth on beds - not to be hung on a wall and admired. I love to look at all those fancy quilts, but I make mine from leftover fabric or from fabric that is on sale at my local fabric store.
This is the quilt I will finish only if I live another 10 years. It is called "Grandmother's Flower Garden." Each hexagon is sewn by hand - no sewing machine work here.
Please excuse the untidy look of it. It gets wrinkled while working on it. All of the flower blocks are done and I am in the process of sewing them together. I work on it sometimes in the evening while watching something I like on my computer. Maybe a movie or some other program like Antiques Roadshow. It takes lots of tiny stitches to sew the pieces together and is time consuming. But I really like this old fashioned pattern, so I keep plugging away at it.
Lori was going shopping on Saturday and asked if I needed anything. Our local big box grocery had chicken legs and thighs in the family-sized packs on sale at a good price, so I asked her to get me three packages of each. In between Boston's dance numbers I filled 13 quart jars with whole legs and thighs. I use the wide mouth jars for ease in removing the meat when I go to use it. That took care of all the wide mouth quart jars I had. That left me with two package of thighs. Those are simmering on the stove and when they are done I will take the meat from the bones and can it in pint jars. There should be some nice chicken broth to can as well.
I hadn't planned to do any canning over the weekend, but when the opportunity presents itself, it seems like a person should take advantage of it. After all, that gives me another couple of weeks worth of suppers and the way things are going in the world around us, I think I will be glad to have it. Things are just getting way too crazy to ignore. We need to be prepared for anything.
don't always work out. That irritating flu-like bug that visited me has moved on to greener pastures. But it did put a bit of a crimp in my plans for a couple of sewing days.
However, optimist that I am, a new plan is in the works. My granddaughter, Boston, is dancing with her studio at Nationals in Wisconsin Dells. She has four routines with her group today. I'm not sure yet about tomorrow. But the competition is being live streamed. So Grandma will be setting up the laptop where I can see it while sewing.
Regular scheduled programing will commence on Monday. The coffee is brewed. The snacks are at hand. Supper is in the crockpot. I am all set for some serious sewing machine time and more importantly, some time well spent watching the girl do what she does so well. Hope you all have a weekend as happy as mine. :)
sewing for a couple of days. Just because I can. I have neglected the piles of quilt pieces on my sewing table for far too long. Sometimes we have to let the world do what it will without us, let the day to day stuff pass by and just do what makes us happy.
I will be back in a day or two - possibly with some show and tell.
I think the only things I did all day that even came close to being work were to wash up a few dishes and sweep the kitchen floor.
There was a novel that needed reading and a movie that needed watching and a few quilt pieces that needed sewing. And there was a long and luxurious afternoon nap. Can't forget the nap.
My phone rang several times during the day. Various and assorted kids and grands called to wish me a happy birthday. I don't do birthday celebrations any more, but leave that for the kiddos. And I don't need gifts - I have all I need. It is enough that they remember and call.
I talked to my youngest grandson, Jacob, who is 9 (I think. I can never remember for sure.). He wanted to know about the important stuff like did I have cake and ice cream. He thought it was just wrong that I didn't. I had to promise I would have cake later this week. And I might just do that. I have been hungry for an apple spice cake with caramel frosting.
I got to thinking about how much things have changed in my 71 years on this earth. Change can be good or sometimes, not so much. I have many more conveniences than my parents had - microwave, air conditioning, telephone that isn't on a 9 family party line. If I want to look up some information on any subject I don't need to go to the library because there is Google. If I want to watch a movie I can find one on my computer or just insert a DVD. I can communicate with people all around the world with just a keystroke or two. I know what is going on around me almost as soon as it happens.
But I think there is a trade-off. We don't sit on the front porch of an evening and just talk any more. Unless Dad has a really good job, Mom can't be home raising the kids because it takes both paychecks to afford all those conveniences. We live in a high stress, fast paced world rather than the slower one of years gone by. Lately, common sense and common decency seem to have vanished, at least in some circles. Vulgarity has become commonplace. We are expected to accept as normal behavior things that were once considered shameful and wrong.
I hope the trend toward rude and crude and violent behavior is just a passing thing. I know there are still good people out there. I know many of them. I just have to wonder what kind of a world my grands will find when they, like me, have lived 71 years.
I pray that by that time good manners and common sense will have made a comeback.
My windowsill garden is growing by leaps and bounds. The snap beans are about 6 inches tall, though kind of leggy. But they are leafing out so I guess they are OK. I may have to stake them up before they fall over.
There are 7 green pea plants, all healthy and leafy. I have two pots of cherry tomatoes and I thinned them out this morning. When they get bigger I will thin again and save the best looking plants.
The cucumbers, zucchini and cantaloupe are all about 4 inches tall and looking good.
So far the bell peppers haven't sprouted. I will give them another week and if they don't poke through the soil by then, I will plant something else in that pot.
I water my little garden every other evening and have notes posted here and there to remind me to do so. That schedule seems to be working well so far.
Now if I can just rein in my homicidal tendencies toward houseplants, this might actually work out.
Had me a nice, relaxing weekend. Our weather has been warm, with temps hitting the 90 degree mark. I was happy to discover the central air conditioning for my building has been turned on. We Minnesotans tend to melt at anything over 85 degrees, wimps that we are. I have been turning off the air and opening windows at night when the temp goes down around the 60 degree mark. Lovely sleeping weather.
Went into slug mode on Saturday. Just pottered about with this and that. Got my grocery order ready for tomorrow when the nice lady calls for it. She has a sense of humor and likes to chat for a bit, which makes for a pleasant break in the day. I really don't need to order much as my pantry is nearly full, so I'm filling in with staples like more salt, oatmeal, canned salmon, tuna, etc.
Now that my shelves are sorted out and I can see at a glance what I have for home canned food, I can better tell what I need to can this summer and fall. Duane stopped in (I needed a tall person to get a box of dehydrated tomatoes off the top shelf.) and we went over the list for the Farmer's Market again, keeping in mind that shelf space is now at a premium. His apartment is smaller than mine, but he said that he would do some rearranging to try to fit in a shelf for more canned food. That would help.
A while back I connected on Facebook with a guy I went to school with. He is a Vietnam Vet and a retired cop. He knows more about what is going on around us than I do, so he messages me articles he finds that keep me up to speed, as much as I can be, anyway. He calls me now and then and we brag on our various kids and grands and talk prepping and the state of insanity we now live in. We talked a bit today of the latest terrorist attack in London. It is just a matter of time until we are in the same boat as England. I wish our government would care as much about keeping us safe as it does about scoring political points. By the time the politicians figure that out, it may be too late.
In my quest for more storage space, I came up with a brilliant idea. Well, OK. Someone else thought of it and I am copying it. I have been dehydrating lots of vegetables for long term storage because when dried, they take up much less space than canned. I saw where some were grinding dehydrated vegetables into powder which reduces them even more. So I experimented first with dried tomatoes by running them through my blender and then through a wire mesh strainer to take out the bits that wouldn't grind down any further. Worked like a charm. I tested the powder by adding a bit of water until I had a passable tomato paste. More water gave me tomato sauce. The leftover bits I stored in a jar separate from the powder to toss into soup, stew, etc. I reduced the dried bell peppers I had to a powder and can add that to any number of dishes for flavor. I think it would be good sprinkled on a salad or in scrambled eggs, omelets, etc. Tomorrow I will powder some more tomatoes and some onions as well.
So that was the extent of my excitement here in my little corner of the world. Quiet. Peaceful. No stress. Just the way I like it.
I have yellow snap beans, green peas, cucumbers and cantaloupe that have poked up through the soil. Oh, and two lonely little cherry tomato plants.
I am surprised to see the cantaloupe growing. Maybe three years ago I saved some seeds from a store bought melon that was exceptionally tasty. I haven't done anything special with the seeds - just put them in an envelope and stored them in a box on a shelf with the rest of my seeds. Same with the cherry tomato seeds. They came from the little garden David had in his back yard. My grands had picked a bucket of cherry tomatoes for me and I saved a few seeds. And they are actually growing. Well, two of them anyway.
What possessed me to buy some garden seeds to begin with, I don't know. I live in an apartment. The communal deck on the building isn't large enough for any serious container gardening, although Duane and Lori have three tomato plants growing there. I guess acquiring seeds is just part of the preparedness thing.
I know I am easily amused, but the fact that these plants are actually trying to grow tickles me.
I wonder if I can keep from murdering them like I do with most house plants. I hope so.
Home canned food sorted and properly shelved - check.
List of needed Farmer's Market produce completed and Oldest Son approved (He is the one who has to go get it all and huff it up the stairs.) - check
List of the amounts and sizes of canning jars needed for processing produce completed and Oldest Son approved for the same reason (He says he feels like a pack mule sometimes. I don't know why. :) - check.
Dehydrator trays and liners all scrubbed and ready to use - check.
Shelves in living room rearranged to make space for more food in jars - check.
I am afraid I am one of those who is easily sidetracked. I have in mind a chore I want to accomplish and before I know it, I am off doing something else. I call it my "Oh, look. Squirrel!" syndrome.
I know I have been talking about canning cranberries from my freezer. I had really good intentions. But they are still in the freezer and I am busy with other things. Squirrel.
Last summer I tried growing some herbs in pots on my windowsills. I don't know what happened, but I managed to kill them all. In frustration, I took the pots, dirt, dead plants and all, stuffed the whole shebang into a trash bag and tossed the bag into the back of my closet. Well yesterday I found them.
I cleaned the dead foliage from the pots, stirred up the soil, watered it down and planted some seeds. I now have pots with peas, yellow snap beans, cucumbers, sweet green peppers, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe and zucchini. I have no idea if the seeds will even grow, but I thought it would be fun to try. I have no expectations of harvesting anything, but at least I may end up with some greenery growing on my windowsills.
So this morning I thought I would can cranberries, but squirrel.
Now that the weather is warmer, I want to get out to the fabric store. I need fabric for the backs of several quilts and batting. So I was digging through the tubs that hold the quilt tops - both finished and partially finished - to see what I needed to finish them all. And in the process I found two bags containing partially crocheted afghans. I had started them to use up yarn left over from other projects, knowing I would need more yarn to finish them. So I took some pictures to remind myself of the colors I need. The fabric store carries yarn as well, so I will get some when I go to buy fabric.
I love crocheted afghans. My grandmother had a couple of them in this same 'granny square' pattern that I remember from my childhood as being soft and warm and comfy. The pattern is easy to do and is something I can work on in the evenings while watching a movie.
So as long as there is no canning going on today, I think I will finish my afternoon doing those piddly household chores that never seem to go away - mop the kitchen floor, vacuum, straighten up my pantry, etc. And I may have to find a cage for that pesky squirrel that keeps diverting my attention. :)
It is a lovely day here in the north country. Temperatures have risen enough so I could shut off the heat in my apartment and crack open a couple of windows. Spent the morning getting caught up on the household stuff that the latest arthritis flare up prevented me from doing. Dishes are washed, laundry is folded and put away and a pan of cornbread muffins are in the oven.
Duane and Lori were here this morning. Duane wanted to borrow my large roaster pan for a beef roast he is cooking for supper. He raided my shelves for a couple pints of baby carrots to go with the beef. I am glad when my kids raid the shelves. That's what all those jars of food are for. And he will bring me a plate of food for my supper. Pretty good trade, I'd say. :)
I was reading the website for one of our local news sources when I saw this headline: 'An Undocumented Future: Fear in The Immigrant Community.'
Basically the article tells of those illegals who are worried about deportation now that we have a president who seems to believe that laws should be enforced. I can't really blame many of these people, especially those who have families here. They were told for eight years that there would be no consequences for breaking our immigration laws. I suspect they counted on the coronation of Hillary to continue that practice. Well, surprise, surprise. Now many are heading for Canada to avoid deportation here. What a mess Obama created by refusing to enforce those laws. And how terribly wrong he was to mess with the lives of those who believed him.
So I have goofed off long enough. I am off to the kitchen to rid the freezer of a few more gallon bags of cranberries that, with any kind of luck, will be cranberry sauce and cranberry juice. I am almost afraid to see what is lurking underneath all those berries. :)
It is cold. It is breezy. It is wet. It will stay like this for the next three or four days. Arthritis in my joints is protesting. It is easy to let depression settle over us under these conditions.
But I won't let it.
There is a recliner and a Kindle and some music on the radio and a green fuzzy blanket, all calling my name.
Right after I have a slice of chocolate cake and another cup of coffee.
Take that, arthritis and depression. You can't begin to compete with chocolate cake and coffee. Nor can you compete with the jar of home canned ham and beans I'm having for supper tonight, along with a pan of cornbread.
Comfort food and a murder mystery. And a green fuzzy blanket. Chases the blues away every time. :)
I need to empty my chest freezer. There are Farmer's Market vendors that sell beef and pork by the half or quarter. Duane and I have decided to order a little later this year and split the meat and the cost. Having done the math, I find it is cheaper to buy in bulk than it is to buy from the grocery. And by buying directly from the farmer, we know what we are getting. So far, in addition to the asparagus, I have canned peas and sweet corn. Today I am canning ground beef. Tomorrow it is cranberry sauce, whole cranberries and cranberry juice. I will be back when I am a little bit closer to seeing the bottom of my freezer. :)
As any Mom will tell you, any Mother's Day where you hear from all of your kids is a good day.
My youngest daughter phoned to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. She is home recovering from knee replacement surgery. My stairs are not on her list of doable things at present, but I am glad that she is healing and the surgery seems to have been successful. Her adult kids will spend time with her, as it should be.
Oldest daughter Jill stopped in with a gift. A little background information here. I have cellulitis which causes my lower legs and feet to swell. As a result, it is necessary for me to wear Ace bandages from knees to toes on both legs, 24 - 7 to try to keep the swelling down. I can not wear regular shoes because of this. I have a pair of those less than fashionable, Velcro adjustable boot-like things with hard soles to wear outside. Inside I have been wearing those socks with the gripper soles over the bandages to keep them clean. So when Jill showed up with a cute pair of house shoes that are made of a knitted, stretchy fabric with a gripper sole and will fit over the bandages, I was thrilled. When you have probably the ugliest legs and feet in the State of Minnesota, being able to wear something on your feet that looks normal is a great boost to your morale.
The ever practical Duane made a Farmer's Market run and brought me four bundles of asparagus. I love asparagus. I cut it into one inch lengths and this morning filled 16 half pint jars that are happily cooking away in my pressure canner. There is enough left over for at least two meals. Fresh asparagus is spendy, which is why I don't include it in my grocery order. Now I will have enough canned so I can treat myself now and then. I woke from an afternoon nap to find a Mother's Day card next to me from Duane and Lori. Lori had called me earlier from Colorado where she is visiting relatives. Made me feel good that she did that.
David, Staci and my three youngest grands came over here on Saturday. They brought lunch. And they brought the dog, who puked three times on the way here due to the motion sickness she still has. I asked David why they didn't wait until she could ride without getting sick and he said that they all wanted me to meet my new Grandpuppy. Oreo is adorable and so well behaved for a pup. She obviously adores the kids and they, her. So I got to pet and love on a puppy again. It was great! If she ever grows into those long legs of hers, she will be a good-sized dog.
David's family had another surprise for me. Knowing I would have to buy a walker soon, I had been researching them to find which one would work best for me. I don't need to research any longer, for they brought me a walker that fits all of my needs. It has wheels and brakes. It has a seat so I can rest when I need to. It folds up making it easy to carry up and down stairs. David said he was sorry there was no cup holder. I had been joking that when I got my walker it had to have a cup holder, an Ooga horn (remember those?), and those handlebar streamers that kids used to attach to their bikes. Sometimes when faced with the fact that your life has changed and you need help with something as simple as walking, making jokes helps to deal with it. We have stormy weather moving in today, but maybe by the end of the week I can be outdoors, terrorizing the neighborhood. :)
It was a lovely weekend. It wasn't all about the gifts, though I am pleased by and appreciative of each one. It was about my kids and grands who are my heart. I do so love each and every one. Thank you, God, for blessing me so richly.
Every morning I pour a cup of coffee, sit down at my computer and check out the various news websites. This morning I came to the realization that the news headlines are the same old crap - just a different day.
Politically, the left mocks whatever the right is doing and vice versa. The Democrats will never, ever get over the fact that Hillary lost. Donald will continue to Tweet stupid things. And the pundits will continue to pontificate whether they have any actual knowledge or not. Congress continues to fight among themselves like spoiled children. And pass laws that are not helpful but mostly harmful to all but the elite. The Constitution has become an afterthought. The laws of our land seem to be optional.
Around the world sabers continue to be rattled. Threats continue to be made. If we lived in a peaceful world, where would the attention getting soundbites come from. If world leaders didn't have constant turmoil and strife to keep their populations riled up about, someone might actually figure out that these leaders are mostly ego maniacal blowhards who care little about the general population and a lot about money and power.
Here in the States we have gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. Special snowflakes need their safe spaces so they need not hear anything that might upset them. Social Justice Warriors have decided that I need to apologize for being born white. If I were a white male I would be expected to apologize and then fall upon my sword. I am expected to accept every perversion known to man as 'the new normal.' And if I object or openly declare my faith in God, I am racist. Or guilty of 'hate speech.'
College students dictate to school administrators what should be taught in classrooms, none of which prepares students for the real world. And the administrators let them get away with it. Tension between the races is at an all time high. Peaceful demonstrations turn into window breaking, car burning, rock throwing riots. Police are told to stand down and let it happen. Those who are speaking against the thuggery are shouted down or are silenced with just the threat of riots should the speakers exercise their right of free speech.
We have become a lawless nation. People are welcomed into our country who have broken the law just by coming in through the back door. We may be accepting some on humanitarian grounds, but the majority of the illegal aliens are here to do more harm than good. Our taxes pay for their food, housing and medical care and our Vets go without proper care. Some of those crossing our borders have vowed to kill all who do not convert to Islam. Many expect US citizens to accommodate their way of life and their beliefs, but have no intention of accepting ours. And yet many in Congress fight against securing our borders.
Gangs of thugs block our freeways shouting slogans about killing cops, but few arrests are made. A friend who is a retired cop tells me the police have their hands tied by the politicians. I can pretty much guarantee that if I were standing in the middle of a road blocking traffic, I would find myself explaining to a judge why I would do something that stupid. People are being harassed and even assaulted simply because of who they voted for in the last election. Some are being abused just to see how many 'likes' the perpetrators can get on their social media live stream. And some are being hurt just because the thugs think it is funny.
I wish I could change it. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and turn the world, or at least my country, into Mayberry. I know there are still good people here. I know many of them. I read their blogs and their comments. I am proud to be related to some of them. Problem is that the politically correct crowd is larger and stronger and louder and more vicious. It is like Pandora's box has been opened and has released it's demons among us.
I have no earthly idea where it will all end. I am not well versed enough in the scriptures to quote any of God's promises or solutions. And I am not arrogant enough to think I know the mind of God. What I do know is that we as a nation desperately need to get back to the principals of our founding fathers. We need to hold true to our core beliefs without worrying about offending those who have differing opinions. And we need to stand firm against those who seek to destroy us.
That is a pretty tall order. I have no doubt that my parents and grandparents were equal to the task. I wonder if we are.
There is nothing special going on here in my little Home Sweet Apartment. Just the day to day routine of living. And when I look at the news and see the chaos in our country, I find myself very grateful that I live such a quiet life.
Lori left yesterday for Colorado to spend time with her family and to see her daughter graduate from college. We miss her but are really happy for her as this is something she has been looking forward to. This means Duane is batching it this week. He came over last evening as he does twice a week to help me with my leg bandages. I fed him pork chops covered with dressing and baked in the oven. I will be seeing him often as the landlord has sent workmen to fix the bathroom in Duane's apartment. The contractor who remodeled the apartments several years ago did a lousy job there. The shower had developed a large crack in the wall, the toilet had been leaking underneath the floor so the plywood flooring had rotted out and there were other issues. By the time the work is finished, Duane and Lori will have brand new bathroom. Meantime, he is using mine. Good thing we live so close.
Youngest son David called me yesterday to let me know that he would likely bring his family to see me on Saturday. It is always fun to see the grands. They might bring the new puppy. Puppy still doesn't do car rides very well. Motion sickness. And given that puking puppies are not much fun to travel with, they may just wait on the pup's visit.
I am enjoying the spring breeze through my open windows in the afternoons when the outside temperature is warm enough. I admit to having a slight case of Spring Fever which accounts for the need to tidy things up a bit after the long winter. The few dust bunnies that have been found are now gone. Cupboards have been straightened and shelves have been reorganized. I'm waiting for my grocery order to be delivered today, after which I think I had better bake a couple batches of cookies. To have a grandchild find an empty cookie jar is just, well, wrong. :)
My days are peaceful for the most part. I still am working on being prepared for whatever comes - canning and dehydrating as much as possible - adding to the other supplies - spending some time in the evenings learning skills that may be useful. YouTube is a great resource for tutorials on most any subject. So many of the skills that were second nature to our grandparents seem to have been all but lost. Sometimes I long for the days before electronic gadgets took over our lives. The days when we read real books and wrote letters in cursive using pen and paper and actually held conversations rather than texting. I do admit to loving my computer, for it gives me the opportunity to connect to the outside world at a time when it is difficult for me to leave my apartment. But I think I would give it up to be able to sit on the porch and listen to Grandpa tell stories about his childhood. I treasure the memories of those conversations with my Dad in his later years. Reading from a screen or watching a video just isn't the same. I guess the older I become, the more I wish the world hadn't changed so much. Sigh.
A direct quote from my Dad, who was known to recite that little ditty every spring, for the amusement of his progeny, while taking on the stance of a great orator. Dad was funny.
I much prefer spring in the country to spring in the city, but even here the wonder of the change in seasons makes itself known.
My building has a communal deck attached to the back. There is a table and a few chairs there and even though it overlooks the parking lot, it is still a nice place to sit on a sunny spring day, coffee cup and book in hand, for an afternoon of sunshine and mystery novel.
There is a bar located next door to my building, just across the alley, and another behind my building. It is possible to near snippets of conversation as patrons walk from one to the other.
"Come on. I'll buy you a drink."
"No, no, no. But I will take the money."
"I'm going to have one for the road."
"OK. And I will have one for the gutter."
"There's a reason you can't start that car."
"What's the reason."
"Because it's not your car,"
The downtown area where I live has old fashioned looking street lights. Every spring the city hangs baskets of brightly colored petunias from hooks on the lamp poles. There are also large flower boxes on every corner that are filled with more colorful petunias. I expect to look out my window and see the flowers within a week or so, for Mother's Day is usually when they arrive, turning a drab city street cheerful and pretty.
Whenever my windows are open I can hear the chitter chatter of sparrows and chickadees coming from the tree in front of my building. Last spring a pair of sparrows built a nest in the small tree outside my living room window. While the Mama bird sat on her eggs, the male was busy chasing away any and all threats to the nest. I watched him go after birds several times his size. The pair hatched out at least four babies and between two and three weeks later, the young birds were out on their own and the parents began a second family. The nest was partially hidden from view, but I caught glimpses of the babies now and then. I am easily amused.
Every spring the sky is filled with honking Canadian geese. Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," but I bet there are more if you include all the smaller ponds. The geese have been nesting here for generations. It is not unusual to have to stop your car and wait for mama goose to lead her gaggle of young across the road. Every summer there is at least one golf course that tries to remove the geese from their pristine fairways. And each attempt results in failure. The geese were there first and they will remain, no matter what.
I like fall best of all because of the color, but spring runs a close second. It means that the long winter is over and there is hope for summer breezes and sunshine. In February we in the north wonder if we will ever see green grass and leaves again. We do...thanks to spring.
The temperature is 61 degrees and rising. There is sunshine and blue skies. A soft breeze finds its way through my open windows. After lunch I may go sit out on the deck and soak it all in. Even the scenic view of the parking lot for the bar next door can't put a damper on such a lovely day.
It is a quiet day in the neighborhood today. I am occupied with the usual chores that keep my apartment livable - washing dishes - putting away yesterday's canned soup - vacuuming - etc.
It is finally looking like Spring. The temperature reached 65 degrees this afternoon and the forecast is for more of the same. Brown is no longer the predominate color. Everywhere I look there is green grass and green leaves coming out on the trees. We didn't have a bad winter. But it just seemed to last so long. Spring is very welcome. Soon I will be able to open my windows and let that lovely spring breeze in.
I read an article the other day that made me laugh. It seems that Harvard Law School has stopped the practice of charging a late fee for overdue library books. The reason for this is that it is way too stressful for the precious snowflakes to have to worry about overdue library fees. Really? Overdue book fees are too stressful? Good grief. How in the name of all that is good and holy are those people going to handle the stress of everyday living. Not to mention the stress that goes along with their chosen profession of Attorney at Law. If I should ever need a good attorney, I'm pretty sure I would want one who wasn't stressed by overdue library fees.
So I am off to the kitchen to fix me a bit of supper. I'm thinking some homemade chicken nuggets and a bowl of coleslaw. With a dish of banana pudding for dessert. Works for me!
I don't think the temperature got much over 36 degrees today. And it has been raining off and on for a couple of days. I won't complain. The worst of the weather went around us and that included snow. Any time the snow gives us a miss, I am happy. But the chilly, wet weather is most definitely good soup making weather.
Friday before my dance watching marathon, I dug four ham bones out of the freezer, tossed them into my biggest stock pot, covered them with water and simmered them most of the day. I picked the meat from the bones and strained the resulting broth. There was enough good, rich ham broth to cook up three bags of split peas, which I did today. I added some diced carrots from the freezer, a couple of handfuls of my dehydrated onions, some garlic powder and the ham pieces. I let the soup simmer all afternoon and then ladled it into pint jars. I got 16 pints of split pea and ham soup, with enough left over for supper.
I have about 20 lbs. of hamburger in the freezer, so tonight I will take that out to thaw and can it up tomorrow. Seems like whenever I take something out of the freezer to can, I find more food underneath it that needs to be processed. I still have cranberries that were under the hamburger, so dealing with them is my next project. Maybe if I keep at it, I might actually find the bottom of my freezer. Maybe.
This afternoon I received an email from Youngest Son. His oldest, my granddaughter Boston, has a dance competition this weekend. It will be live streamed so I can watch it. He sent me the link and the scheduled times for Boston's dances.
Later my phone rang. It was Boston. "I am so excited that you are going to watch me dance, Grandma." I'm excited, too. This is the first time this year that one of her competitions has been live streamed. I haven't as yet seen her solo tap dance and I'm really looking forward to watching her perform it.
I told Boston that I already had my popcorn popper out and ready to go, so I could watch her dance and munch popcorn, just like in the theaters. She said, "Grandma, you're so funny."
I will be back on Monday after my marathon dance competition watching.
Go get 'em, Miss B. Dance like nobody's watching!!
My Dad loved to grow things. He lovingly tended his gardens for many years. And when he could no longer garden, he planted tomatoes in pots on the balcony of his apartment.
One fall he found that a tomato plant had not yet died off as had the others, so when the nights became colder, he brought it indoors. He continued to water it and it continued to grow.
Dad lived in a town of about 600 people, not ten miles from where he was born. Everyone knew everyone else. Knowing Dad, I suspect that he did just a little bit of bragging on his tall tomato plant. Probably showed it off to some of his friends and relatives who lived in the same Senior apartment building.
Word got around and one afternoon a reporter from the local weekly newspaper came knocking on his door. An interview was given and pictures were taken. And Dad and his tomato plant had their 15 minutes of fame the following week when the paper was published.
Some years later I inherited a box full of family pictures. While sorting them out, I found this one.
That's Dad. That's the famous tomato plant. Dad was 5' 5" tall so the plant might look taller than it was. I looked at the distance between the top of the plant and his living room ceiling. Looks to be about a foot. After this photo was taken, the silly plant continued to grow until it touched the ceiling.
We always teased him that it must have been a slow news week when the article appeared in the newspaper. He just smiled and remarked that he knew of nobody else who had grown a 7 foot tall tomato plant.
I have been trying all morning to write a new post and it just isn't working. The words aren't there. It isn't that the subject is difficult, for it was just about another day in the life of this chubby granny. Rather than fight with it any longer, I shall give my brain a time-out and head to the kitchen to re-can some pickles and bake some bread. Perhaps tomorrow my brain cells will line up and let me write something that makes sense. :)
A little while ago there was a knock on my door. It was my neighbor. The one of the barking dog and smoke alarm fame. That one.
He said he was truly sorry for the trouble he had caused. He hoped I would accept his apology and his assurance that there would not be a repeat performance.
I accepted his apology. All I want is for him to take responsibility for his actions and to stop doing dumb stuff that threatens me and mine. And aside from the smoke alarm incidents, he is a quiet neighbor who doesn't bother anyone.
I do not know what brought about this change in attitude. And it really doesn't matter. I will give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he isn't the only one living here who has slipped into stupid at one time or another.
And I would hate to see Cooper have to move. I love that dog. :)
After all the canning I need a couple of days of rest and recuperation. Dratted arthritis! All I had left to can was hamburger and peas. Those are now in the freezer waiting until my aching joints get with the program. I had some onions, cabbage and bell peppers leftover, so those will go into the dehydrators this evening.
There was a bit of excitement here in my building Saturday night. My neighbor across the hall seems to have overindulged at the bar, came home and put some food in his oven and neglected to take it out. I heard his dog barking about 1 AM. The dog never barks unless something is wrong in his world. Then the neighbor's smoke alarm started blaring at 1:30 AM. I had been dozing in my recliner and when I noticed it was still going off 20 minutes later and I started to get up to call 911 when it stopped.
Duane asked me the next day if I had heard all the excitement. I had not, for I must have gone to sleep right after the alarm stopped. He said that he and Lori opened their apartment door to find out where the alarm was, and they found the hallway was filled with a smoky haze. Lori called 911. Police and firemen showed up in short order and found the source of the smoke. They set up fans to clear the smoke from the building. Duane came here to check on me and found me peacefully snoozing. Duane and Lori said that later the neighbor, thinking the caretakers had made the call, had taken his drunken self down the hall and was pounding on the caretaker's door, shouting obscenities and calling them some very unflattering names.
This is the third time this fool has done this. We are hoping our landlord will invite him to take his sorry self elsewhere to live.
Aside from that, all is quiet and peaceful in my little corner of the world. :)
I like to have a variety of relishes on hand. They give just a little bit of zing to a meal. One of my favorites is corn relish. Here is the recipe.
6 cups cooked fresh or frozen whole kernel corn
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups cider vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp pickling salt
1 Tbsp celery seed
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp turmeric
Combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Immediately fill hot pint or half-pint jars with mixture, leaving 1/2-inch head space.
Process pints or half-pints in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
I doubled the recipe. That gave me 12 pints of relish plus about a half pint to eat with supper tonite.
I am taking tomorrow off. Duane is baking a huge ham. He is working his magic with a sauce that has pineapple in it. He and Lori are doing most of the cooking. All I have to do is make some candied carrots and set the table. Spoil me, they do. :)
This is me, wishing all of my blog friends a happy and blessed Easter.
So I decided to try another experiment. I am canning grapes.
Now, why on earth would anybody want to can grapes, you might ask. First, I love grapes. Nearly every grocery order includes grapes.
Second, lets pretend that the reason we prepare has happened and the only food we have to eat is the food we have stored. If I had canned no other meat than chicken, or if I only had canned peaches for fruit, it wouldn't take very long before I could not stand the sight of chicken or peaches. That's why I can a variety of meats and fruits. And grapes are just another variety to add to my shelves.
I have not canned grapes before, but according to those who have, they can up well. If you only like fresh grapes, this method is probably not for you. But if you like the grapes that come in a can of fruit cocktail, you might like these.
Canning grapes is easy, peasy. Remove the grapes from their stems and wash them well. Fill jars with grapes (I used pints) to within 1 inch from the top of the jar. Make a simple syrup of sugar and water. As grapes are naturally sweet, I used a very light syrup of 6 1/2 cups of water and 3/4 cup sugar, brought to a boil to dissolve the sugar. This is enough for 8 - 9 pints. Pour the syrup over the grapes and water bath can them for 15 minutes.
I had ordered 2 lbs. of green grapes and 2 lbs. of red. That gave me 6 pints of grapes, total (minus a handful or two or three that I ate). When the jars had cooled, I opened one to see how I would like them, and I did. I would think you could use them like fruit cocktail, just for snacking or maybe as a dessert. I will probably can more of these.
When I can soups I keep the recipe as simple as possible. If I keep the ingredients basic, I can add others when it is served, giving me more options.
Last evening I did the prep work on the ingredients for this soup. This recipe calls for the following per pint jar, layered in no particular order:
1/3 cup of dry white beans that have been sorted and washed
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced ham
2 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
water to fill jar
The jars are processed in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure for my altitude. The beans will cook through and expand while processing. The recipe can be doubled for quarts that are processed for 90 minutes. I ran through a canner load of 16 pints.
Some instructions for similar soups call for more beans. I am reluctant to use more because the beans fully expand in the canner. Too many beans in the jar will push the lids off when they expand, leaving a nasty mess in the canner and the loss of your jars of soup.
Some serve the soup as is with just the addition of salt and pepper. Others add a variety of spices and seasonings to taste. Some like the addition of tomatoes or tomato powder for a different flavor. There are all sorts of possibilities.
This soup along with a chicken vegetable variety are my "go to" soups. I make sure I have lots of both canned and on the shelves so that I can use both in a variety of ways. They are nice to have when you want a quick lunch or supper. Add a salad or cornbread or maybe a slice of homemade bread and you have a really quick and easy meal. And as you know, I am all about quick, easy meals now that I am cooking for just one.
I still had vegetables and ham left after canning the ham, bean and vegetable soup. I also had some potatoes that needed to be used up. So I peeled and diced the potatoes. Each pint jar got 2/3 cup of potatoes and 1/3 cup each ham, carrots and celery. I added 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon powder for flavor and water to cover. I ran this through the pressure canner at 10 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes. I got 16 pints of ham, potato and vegetable soup.
I sort of made this soup up as I went along so I'm not exactly sure what to do with it. I expect it can be eaten as is or maybe thickened for a chowder type soup. No matter how it is consumed, it is still 16 more meals on the shelf. And that's the goal - fill the shelves.
As it turned out this week, the only food items I needed to order were eggs and milk. So I thought it might be a good opportunity to fill out my grocery order with things to can. My groceries were delivered this afternoon. In order to get a head start on the canning, I started with the easiest which is kielbasa. This is sort of an experiment for me as I have not canned kielbasa before.
I started out with 6 rings of kielbasa. I cut them into about 1 inch thick pieces. I didn't want the pieces any smaller than that because of the time they are in the pressure canner. I was afraid they would become a bit crunchy if the slices were too thin. I am not fond of most meats that are canned in liquid so I added none to the jars. I just packed pint jars with the kielbasa chunks and pressure canned them for 75 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure for my area. I got 7 pints from the 6 kielbasa rings.
I am pleased with the results. The kielbasa did not shrink hardly at all in the canning process, and the taste and texture are really good. I will can more of this.
Tomorrow I am canning ham, bean and vegetable soup and will post the recipe when the soup comes out of the canner.
I have a major canning session coming up after my grocery delivery on Thursday. Duane and Lori picked up 6 cases of pint jars and 3 cases of half pints for me. I hope that will be enough. At any rate, I am taking a few days off to deal with those pesky domestic chores that need my attention before I am knee-deep in home canned stuff. Instructions and a recipe or two to follow. Meanwhile, those folks listed over there in the sidebar have all sorts of interesting things to say. Enjoy.
So yesterday I saw that ham was on sale at my local grocery. Ham is one of my favorite meats to can and my supply was getting low. Lori said she would be happy to do a grocery run for me (Bless her heart.). She came back with a lovely spiral cut ham for our Easter dinner and 4 regular hams for me to can. The hams to can weighed in at about 40 pounds, total.
I spent the afternoon cutting the meat from the bones. Roughly a third of the meat was cut into 2 to 3 inch chunks to be used for regular ham dinners. The rest was cut into smaller cubes. These will be used in scalloped potatoes and ham or casseroles or for sandwiches.
Early this morning I packed the ham into pint and half pint jars. I don't add any liquid. The ham generates its own juices. Both are processed in the pressure canner for 75 minutes. The four hams gave me 13 pints of the larger chunks and 45 half pints of the smaller cubes.
There is a generous amount of meat left on the bones, so maybe tomorrow I will boil up the bones and can the resulting ham broth. The meat will be packaged and frozen for use in ham and beans or in soup.
It is good to have a variety of meats on the shelf and canning ham is one way to accomplish that. It is a bonus that the home canned ham tastes really good.
I bought 6 jars of grape jelly a while back. The good thing was, they were on sale. The bad thing was, the jelly came in 32 ounce jars. There is no way I can eat a quart of grape jelly before it starts growing mold. Jelly isn't supposed to be hairy.
So I decided this morning to try something with it. I opened one jar, dumped the contents into a sauce pan and heated the jelly over a low flame until it became liquid. Then I poured it into half pint jars and hot water bath canned them for 15 minutes.
I wasn't at all sure the jelly would jell up after being melted, but it was worth a try.
It worked. Now I have my sale jelly in small enough jars so that it will be used up before it goes bad.
That is a question I have been pondering this week. Because I enjoy the process and results of canning food in jars and because I seem to be constantly rearranging to make room on the shelves for more, I began to wonder when I would have enough.
If I were canning for just myself I would probably concede that I have enough now to last me a couple of years, even with using it regularly as I do. But there is more to consider. For a number of years I have taken into consideration that because my oldest son is the one who does grocery and Farmer's Market runs for me and because he has hauled countless cases of jars up the stairs to my apartment, often refusing to let me pay, that my canning efforts would feed him as well as myself. And now that his girlfriend has joined our family and they live in my building, the food in jars is, of course, split three ways. That gives me maybe a years worth of canned food.
None of us knows what the future holds. The only thing I know for sure is that I now live in a more volatile world than I have ever before in my lifetime seen. There are riots in the streets over any number of causes, political and racial being the two most prominent. We have those who are supposed to be representing we the people, fighting amongst themselves worse than the Hatfields and McCoys. We have the occasional terrorist who tries to kill as many of us as possible for the glory of Allah. We have countries in the Middle East whose theme song seems to be "Death to America." And lest we forget, there is that crazy North Korean dictator who threatens on almost a weekly basis to nuke us to smithereens or at the very least, nuke our electric grid out of existence. And we haven't even talked about the natural disasters that could occur.
So all of that being said, when do I have enough food in jars to stop canning. Do I stop when there is enough to feed three people for a year? Or do I think ahead to the possibility of other family members knocking on my door when their food supply is gone. I am not saying this will happen, but what if it did.
Someone once looked at my well stocked shelves and asked me, in all seriousness, what in the world I was going to do with all that food, should nothing bad ever happen. I said I didn't know. Maybe I would just..........eat it.
To answer my own question about when do you have enough food stored, I think that "never" is likely correct. Especially for those of us who live where we can not raise our own fruit and vegetables and livestock. Eventually, no matter what our best efforts are, the food will run out. But having a couple of years of food stocked, we have given ourselves time to plan and carry out the next move should it be necessary. It is good to have options.
It was a very quiet weekend here in my little Home Sweet Apartment. I did a whole lot of nuthin'.
Oh, there were the usual domestic chores that keep one's living space from turning into pig sty. There were dishes to be washed and floors to be swept and dust to be removed from furniture surfaces. But between bouts of domesticity there were mystery novels to be read and movies to be watched and most importantly, naps to be taken.
Youngest Son called and wanted to know what I was doing. I replied that I was pretty much just being a turnip. He said he wished he could just be a turnip for a day. He was busy doing those chores that most folks with jobs do on weekends. And he was driving his offspring to dance competitions and hockey games. Makes me appreciate retirement even more.
So I am off to do a couple loads of laundry. And maybe bake a pan of brownies. In a world that has gone completely mad, sometimes a pan of brownies is all that stands between us and total insanity.
Out of the 14 quarts of chili I canned, one jar didn't seal right out of the canner. That is not unusual. While I was washing the jars prior to shelving them, another six jars popped their seals. That is unusual.
I am not sure why this happened. There are a number of reason why lids don't seal, but this is the first time I can remember having jars that seal, only to come loose the next day.
I put the offending jars in the fridge. Tomorrow I will transfer the chili from the jars to freezer bags and freeze them. I am debating whether or not I should just open the rest of the jars and freeze the contents of them as well. With a failure rate of 50%, it seems likely that others could lose their seals and I could have chili on my shelf, slowly rotting away if I don't catch the popped seals right away. Better to err on the side of caution.
On the bright side, I didn't lose any chili due to spoilage. Good thing I cleaned out the freezer. :)
So yesterday I cleaned out the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. I did that mostly because in my typical unorganized fashion, stuff was just crammed in there willy nilly. And when a rock solid package of food slid out when the door was opened, I was in danger of winding up with a busted toe. I can't jump out of the way of falling objects quite as fast as I used to. Anyway, in the process of cleaning and sorting, I found about 15 lbs. of hamburger. Decided it was time to can some chili. I had been out of my home canned chili for a while and I really like having it on hand for a quick meal.
This morning I browned the meat, drained it and tossed it into my big stock pot. I added 9 pints of tomatoes with green peppers and onions that I had canned a couple of years ago. That wasn't enough, so I added 5 quarts of diced tomatoes. Threw in a big handful of dehydrated onions just because. I had a couple of cases of kidney beans in the pantry, so I added 6 cans of them to the mix. I seasoned the chili with salt and pepper and chili powder to taste.
When I can chili, I don't need to cook it first. I just heat it up enough to warm it before filling the jars. Because the chili contains meat, the quart jars are processed in the pressure canner for 90 minutes which is plenty of time to fully cook it. I wound up with 14 quarts of chili.
When I was growing up, my Mom always served chili over rice. I always thought she did that because she liked it that way. It wasn't until I was grown and feeding my own family that I realized she used the rice to stretch the chili to feed our family. By that time I liked the combination of chili and rice, so while the chili was in the canner I cooked up a big pot of rice, let it cool down and portioned it out into small freezer bags and froze it. So now when I want chili for supper, I just need to microwave the rice enough to thaw it out and heat it up while the chili heats on the stove. Add a pan of cornbread and I have a quick, easy supper. And goodness knows, I am all about quick and easy meals. :)
My grandson, Zach, has spent the last year and maybe longer, raising money for his school Symphony Tour to Europe. He sold cheese, summer sausage, fruit boxes, chocolates and I can't remember what all else. I think the only thing I couldn't buy from him was the coupon for car washes, because I don't own a car.
Anyway, the group flew out of Chicago's O'Hare airport yesterday. A 9 hour flight found them in Munich, Germany. They traveled to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic where they stayed the night and today they go to Prague for some sightseeing and a performance.
My oldest daughter, Zach's Mom, went along as a chaperone. Jill is posting pictures on Facebook. There is also a blog set up by the teacher to keep a record of their trip.
Zach and Jill at the Chicago airport.
I'm pretty sure when Zach decided to learn to play the trombone, he didn't know it would lead to a trip like this. I am so exited for both Zach and his Mom. I know they will have a wonderful time making memories to last a lifetime.
Mom of four and Grandma of six, who writes about family events both past and present as well as anything else that happens to come to mind, shares new photos as well as old and who enjoys life in general.