Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Lost Art of Tinkering

My Dad could fix just about anything.  I suspect this talent was born when he was a young man during the Great Depression.  The youngest of nine children living on a farm in northern Minnesota where the soil was sandy and cash was scarce, the family didn't buy new to replace broken.  They fixed.

I can remember watching Dad glue the soles of his work boots back on rather than buy new boots.  When car and bike tires had inner tubes, Dad would take out his tube patching kit to patch a hole.  He wasn't a mechanic, but I have seen him tinker with the engine of a car - mine more than once - until it purred.

Because I am my father's daughter, I decided to tinker with my new pressure canner that wouldn't build up pressure and was spouting steam from several places around the lid, before going through the hassle of returning it. 

When I looked closely at the gasket that came with the canner, it looked odd to me.  It fit alright around the underside of the lid, but it looked awfully flat.  So I switched it out with the gasket from my old canner, added three quarts of water, turned the fire on High and waited to see what would happen.

Lo and behold, not a single steam leak.  Pressure built up to where it needed to be.  Soon after putting the weight on, it started jiggling like it is supposed to.  

I am in the process of dehydrating apples, potatoes and onions.  But tomorrow evening I will set out chicken legs and thighs and possibly four whole chickens to thaw to be canned.

Sometimes it pays to tinker. 

Monday, September 21, 2020


40 lbs. of browned hamburger has thawed.  16 pints are in the new canner.  Another 16 pints are jarred up and waiting.  And the new canner leaks steam like a sieve.

I fiddled with it all morning trying to get it to come up to pressure.  Nope.  Didn't happen.  The only thing left to try is to order a new gasket and see if that helps. If that doesn't work, back it goes.

Thing is, I could order another pressure canner from Amazon.  They want to charge me $100 over what I paid for the one I have now.  If I am going to spend that kind of money, it will be for an All-American pressure canner.  The manufacturer's website tells me that all the All-American  models are out of stock.

So here I am.  I still have 40 lbs. of browned hamburger and no functioning pressure canner.  Good thing I stocked up on rolls of Food Saver bags.  Figured out the size bag needed to hold a pint of hamburger, made up the bags and vacuum sealed the whole works.

Things don't always go according to the plan.  And I am beginning to think Murphy has taken up permanent residence in my apartment!  I would much prefer to have the meat in jars on the shelf, but rather than lose it, I went with Plan B - vacuum sealing and freezing.

Isn't that what preparedness is all about?  Being as ready as we can be when things don't go according to plan.  Having alternative methods of doing what needs to be done.

The solution to a problem might not be ideal, but if the solution works, then we have accomplished what we set out to do.

Keep on prepping, even if alternative methods are necessary.  The way things seem to be going, we will need every crumb.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Drum Roll, Please

I am extremely proud to present my very first Great Granddaughter - Miss Aspyn Marie.

She weighed in at 8 lbs. 14 oz. and like her Grandmother and Great Grandmother, doesn't seem to have a problem expressing her opinion.

This is the quilt I made for little Aspyn.  The top is flannel and the print has little bees all over it.  The back is a pale gray fabric with white lettering that spells out, "Love you to the moon and back."

Welcome to the world, sweet child.  And most importantly, welcome to my family.

Let the spoiling begin!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Preparedness Update

I have been a busy chubby granny this week.

Monday my grocery order went in for delivery on Thursday.  Chicken was on sale for 77 cents per pound, so I ordered 6 whole chickens and 6 each of the family packs of legs and thighs.

The very next day, Youngest Son called to say he was picking up his brother Wednesday morning to do a Sam's Club run for me.  

Wednesday morning I handed the boys my list and some cash and off they went.  

I have ordered a pressure canner but it won't be delivered for another week and a half, so the meat I ordered specifically for canning had to be frozen for now.  That involved a panic mode cleaning out of freezers in order to have room for the important stuff.  

Since I brown hamburger and cook whole chickens before canning the meat, here is what I wound up with when all was said and done.

40 lbs. of hamburger, browned and frozen.

12 whole chickens, cooked, deboned and the meat frozen.

4 whole chickens frozen for future roasting or frying.

30 chicken thighs and 60 chicken legs stuffed into Ziploc bags and frozen.  Those I like to pack into wide mouth quart jars and can them whole.

8 lbs. of breakfast sausage that came 2 lbs. per roll.  I cut the rolls into thirds, flattened each piece and vacuum sealed them before freezing.

2 large whole pork loins.  One I cut into 1-inch thick slices for boneless chops and the other into several small roasts.  These were also vacuum sealed and frozen. 

9 lbs. frozen blueberries, repackaged 1 cup per bag and frozen.

12 lbs. fresh strawberries, cleaned, halved and frozen in 1 quart freezer bags. 

There were also 24 lbs. of frozen hash browns and 18 lbs. of frozen mixed vegetables that have been dehydrated.

I use my home canned food for my everyday meals and was getting a little low on some of the meats.  It gives me some peace of mind to be able to restock.  And I am blessed with sons who are willing to take the time to shop for me and who haul it all up the stairs without complaint.

I will be pleased when I can get it all into jars and on the shelves.

I probably wouldn't have bought so much meat at one time, but with the reports of meat processing plants closed due to the threat of the virus, I decided I had better get as much as I could while I still could.  I have noticed more substitutions and out of stock items in my twice-a-month grocery deliveries than there have ever been before.  That isn't just meat, but other products as well. 

We live in a world that seems to be upside down and backwards.  We have the threat of the virus hanging over our heads.  Has anyone else noticed that young children did not get the virus right up to the time school was due to begin and then, all of a sudden, we hear of the dangers of school children becoming infected?

It really isn't about a virus.  It is all about control.

So no matter what the elite powers that be decide to throw at us, we had better be ready for it.  

Pray and prepare, my friends.  Pray and prepare.  

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Checking In

Due to my quiet lifestyle, there hasn't been much new and exciting to write about.  Thing is, I rather like the way I live.  Give me peaceful over drama any day of the week.

I managed to dehydrate most of the vegetables from my last grocery order.  There are still some bags of frozen peas and broccoli to run through along with 5 lbs. of onions.  I expect I can do those this week.

I spent considerable time working on the quilt for my first Great Grand, due to make an appearance this week.  It is a 'rag quilt' which means the seams of the blocks are on the outside of the quilt.  They are all snipped at less than quarter inch intervals so when the quilt is washed and run through the dryer, the seams fluff up.  It has taken me longer than expected to finish, but that's just the way it is these days.  I will show you how it turned out in a few days.

I usually check the news reports every morning to see which cities are on fire now.  I just can not understand the kind of hatred that fuels these riots.  I have no sympathy whatsoever for those who are harassing and beating bystanders, looting stores and burning down people's hopes, dreams and livelihoods.  I think they should all be behind bars so they can not hurt anyone else.  But I also have to think that they must be living miserable lives to do what they do.  I don't mean miserable in the poverty stricken sense, but miserable in their souls - the place where they have to live with themselves.  

I also wonder what it must be like to live in the hearts of those who allow this kind of destruction of a perfectly fine country to continue, all for the sake of gaining and keeping power.  It is so sad that the potential to do good for their fellow man is completely lost to greed and selfishness.

I will take my quiet little life over that of hate and discontent, any old time.  What I have is worth far more than any amount of fame or power or wealth.  To me, nothing is worth more than the words, "I love you, Mom."

Pray and prepare.  And don't ever forget to tell those who are important to you that they are loved.  For at the end of the day, that's what really matters.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Sandwich Kind of Person

My Mother was an excellent cook.  She could put a chicken in the oven before we left for church on Sunday and it would be perfectly roasted when we arrived home.  And when company was coming, she was a wonder with fancy salads and homemade bread and desserts to die for. 

Mother taught me how to cook and I can if necessary.  But I have to confess, I am a sandwich kind of person.

I tend to get all involved in various projects and when I do, I eat because I need fuel.  Sandwiches take little time to prepare and to eat.  I will fix something a bit better for supper, but the middle of the day and in the middle of a project, you will find me with a sandwich.

When I get tired of peanut butter or egg salad, I like a meat sandwich, but I am not about to pay close to $6 for less than a pound of lunch meat at the store.  So when I ran across two faded recipe cards in the back of my recipe box for lunch meat, I remembered how good they were when I had made them years ago.  So over the weekend I made some. 


2 lbs. hamburger

1/2 Cup water

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. mustard seed

3 Tbsp. Tender Quick

1/8 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. peppercorns (I left these out)

Mix all ingredients very well.  Shape into three rolls and wrap in foil.  (Three rolls fit nicely into a Dutch Oven.)  Refrigerate for 24 hours.  Cover with water and boil for 1 hour.

Summer Sausage

2 lbs. hamburger

3/4 Cup water

2 tsp. liquid smoke

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. mustard seed

3 Tbsp. Tender Quick

Mix ingredients together very well.  Shape into rolls and wrap in foil.  Refrigerate 24 hours.  Punch holes in the bottom of each roll with a fork.  Place rolls on a rack in a baking pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Note:  The Tender Quick is Morton's Tender Quick meat curing salt.  And I went a little heavier on the garlic in both.

Neither sandwich meat tastes just like the store bought varieties, but both taste as good as I remembered.  I kept one roll of each in the fridge to use this week and froze the rest.

It is nice to have an alternative to the processed lunch meat in the stores and it is something I can make with what I have on hand for a change of pace for sandwiches.  The ends of the rolls look a little wonky, so I just trimmed those off, cut them up and ate them on Ritz crackers.  

Waste not - want not.

Keep on prepping and praying.