Friday, April 28, 2017

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

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!!

Love, Grandma

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dad and the Seven Foot Tall Tomato Plant

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 sure miss that old man.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Just Not Working

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.  :)

Friday, April 21, 2017

If I report the bad...

then I had better report the good.

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.  :)

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Couple of Days R&R and a Bit of Apartment House Excitement

So I thought I was Wonder Woman.

I'm not.

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.  :)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Canning Corn Relish

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.

Corn Relish

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.

Canning Grapes

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.

You gotta try new things.  :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Canning Ham and Bean and Vegetable Soup

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.

More Soup

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.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Canning Kielbasa

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.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Taking a Few Days Off

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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Canning Ham

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.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


You know what our local weatherman said?

He said it might snow tomorrow.

That is just wrong, even for Minnesota.

Mother Nature, I don't like you very much any more.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Jelly Experiment

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.

Think outside the box.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Do You Have Enough Home Canned Food

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 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.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Quiet Weekend

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.