I'm sitting here with a cup of Chai Tea and it looks like we had another dusting of snow last night. We have had several snow storms followed by rain followed by sleet and then snow again.  It has made for a icy driveway but after a couple of warm days things are improving.  Let's just say that the grippers (for those not in snow/ice country they are spikes that you put on your shoes) are staying on for awhile.  The last thing I want to do is end up falling on my way to the barn.

There have been several little projects that have been completed over the last couple of months.

Fall Applesauce

My sweet husband and I have a tradition of going to the apple orchard late in the fall.  We wait until there has been at least one frost because the apples seem to be better then.  We have several apple trees planted here on the homestead but they are not producing fruit yet so we give a local grower our business.  We eat many of the apples fresh and I make a pie or two and of course apple crisp but canning applesauce to have the rest of the year is the biggest thing.  There is nothing like some of our home raised pork with applesauce for dinner on a cold winter evening.

Turkey Broth in the canner

After Thanksgiving my husband strips the bird and we put the bones in a huge pot on the wood stove to simmer for several hours.  I get the pot up to temperature on the gas stove then transfer it to a trivet on the wood stove where it will sit and get happy.  I then can the rich broth to use all winter as a base for soups and stews.  If you don't can please make broth anyway and freeze it.  Homemade is so much better than what you can buy in the store.  I can mine with no salt so I can season each soup or stew that I make with it to my liking.  I make broth every time I make chicken too.  This yields just enough broth of one batch of soup.  Usually I end up making my Tortilla Soup with that since it also uses the left over chicken in it.  I'll give you that recipe in another post.

Triple Berry Jelly

I had been collecting juice from a triple berry mix (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries) for several months and freezing it.  Now it was time to make jelly with it.  Earlier I had made a delicious apple pie jam that I found a recipe for.  It is low in sugar so the flavor of the apples really comes out.  I also made a jam with my ground cherries.  I just used the recipe in the box of pectin for berry jam.

After I finished the Triple Berry Jam I canned it is 4 oz. jelly jars and created a cute label for the top.  These became Christmas gifts added to bags with home made fudge and cereal mix.  It is so fun to make and give gifts from your kitchen.

My husband and I have been talking about a big project for next summer.  We do not have a basement therefore not a root cellar or any real cold storage space.  I use our spare room for our pantry and in the winter with the door closed it is really cool but that is not the case in the summer.  Summer and fall are our times when the cold storage is really needed especially when we butcher and process our poultry.  For years we have put them in big bins with ice but when you are processing close to 50 birds that is a lot of ice.  So we are looking into building a cold room.

The Ripley's, the young couple that we get our CSA from at Ripley Farm, have one for their produce so we started to do some research.  Come to find out the company that makes the device that turns a regular window air conditioner into one that will keep a room at around 40 degrees, CoolBot, has plans for building the rooms right on their website.  This might be a multi year project since we will have concrete poured for the foundation and then build the room.  We are planning on attaching it to the back of the garage so we can enter it from inside the garage.  No outside entrance means we don't have to keep the snow shoveled from in front of the door.

Not only are we planning to use it for the keeping our meat cool during processing but we want to make it into a year round cold storage where the canned goods and root cellar items could be stored.  The room will be super insulated and will be located where there will not be too much direct sun hitting it so our hope is that except for when we have meat cooling we will have to turn on the air conditioner very little.  There may also need to be a small heating element during the winter so that stored food does not freeze during the winter.  I'll try to keep you updated at things progress.

It has been nice getting updated.  I know the posts have not been very regular lately.  Between my and my husband's crazy schedule it has been a challenge.  I hope to be better in this new year of 2017.

Visit with you soon.



Theme for my kitchen remodel???



PantryPantry RevealedWell if you are going to store extra food you need someplace to put it.  Here is my additional pantry.  As I have said before I do not have a basement so when our son left home I took over his bedroom.  Since the regular closet was already repurposed as storage for things other than foodstuffs I had to come up with a different idea.  What I did was build a additional storage space in the room.  As you can see by the photo on the right there is a heavy duty shelf and on the left is a corner shelf.  I have described this to you in a previous post but I thought I would share some pictures since we were talking about food storage again.

We talked last time about how you can build up your storage a little at and time and that you should store what your family will eat.  Now that you have kept your list for a week or two I'm sure you realize that there are many things your family eats that can be made a part of your food storage.  So how about those staples that you hear about all the time:  beans and rice?  Should you store them if your family does not eat them?  Well, yes and no.  Beans and rice are really cost effective for what you get and they will fill you up if you are hungry.  However, if your family does not normally eat beans and rice and you do not know how to cook with them there is not much point to having a five gallon bucket of each in your storage.

But wait, now may be the time to introduce your family to beans and rice and experiment with cooking both.  Rice is fairly simple to cook it is just two time the water as rice with a little fat, either oil or butter, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the water is absorbed.  Cooked just like this rice is fairly bland but goes really well if you have a meat and veggie mix with a little sauce to go on top.  It is really easy to flavor plain white rice with just some herbs and spices.  Try some different combinations and flavors that you know your family likes.  I add garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper for a little southwest flavor.  Curry can also be added for a Thai flavor.  Just adding a can of tomatoes with basil and garlic or chilies will make the rice delicious.  Rice can also be substituted for  Don't be afraid to try different things.

Beans on the other hand are a little more involved to prepare.  They have to be soaked then simmered in order to get them soft enough to eat.  It is not complicated, just time consuming.  I would suggest that you pick up a bag of dry beans at the grocery store and read the directions on the back.  Some packages may also have a recipe to use your beans in.  Some of the most popular are baked beans usually made with navy or pea beans.  Black beans are really popular right now in many southwest recipes.  They have a great flavor and I use them in my tortilla soup recipe.  Pinto beans are the basis of refried beans just smash them up add some bacon grease, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a dash of cumin and there you have it.

It may take a little more convincing to get your family to eat beans than rice but it is worth the effort.  Beans are a good protein source if meat is not available or if you want to have one meatless dinner per week.  This will not only be delicious but it will also help with the grocery budget.

The one thing that was mentioned for both beans and rice was some of the herbs and spices used to flavor them.  We haven't mentioned it to this point but storing these items in your pantry makes meal preparations so much easier not to mention more flavorful.  Next time let's talk about what and how to store these great items.


Fall is coming quickly and the garden is producing well.  So, what to do with the surplus.  Sharing with family and friends is great but if you are fortunate you should have enough to put some by for winter.  I use several methods to preserve my garden produce.  Which method depends on what the fruit or vegetable is.  I regularly use canning and dehydration for food preservation.  I can green beans, tomatoes and jam.  I like to dehydrate fruit, some vegetables and potatoes.  Having these fruits and vegetables on hand either canned or dried makes meal preparation fun and easy.  There are many days that as I'm leaving for work I ask my husband to get something out of the freezer for dinner, meaning the meat part of the meal.  I don't know until I arrive home from work what I will be working with for dinner.  I know for some of you this will not work for you but I like the challenge of figuring out what to make to compliment whatever meat is waiting for me for dinner.   Being able to pull canned green beans, applesauce or pears out of the pantry to go with the meat that we are having for dinner is a great feeling.  No trip to the supermarket needed.

Now, maybe you don't can or dehydrate but you can build up your pantry so that you can be creative on a moments notice.  You can start small and build your pantry slowly.  The most important thing to remember is to store what you eat and eat what you store.  There is no point to putting cans, bags or boxes of food that your family will not eat.  It is a waste of space and money.

So, let's get started.  Keep a list of what you and your family eat for a week or so.  Now, what ingredients from those meals would keep in your pantry?  Make a list of the staples from each meal that you made.  These are the items that you should begin to fill your pantry with.  These are also probably already on your shopping list.  So when you head to the grocery store instead of just getting one jar of pasta sauce, green beans, soup or whatever, buy two.  One will be for your weekly meal and the other will go in your pantry. Each time you use one of the items in your pantry put it on your shopping list and purchase two.  After several weeks your pantry will start looking good.

Over the next few weeks I will talk more about food storage and being prepared if you cannot get to the supermarket.  So please check in often.  Sign up and receive notice of the next post.

Fresh beans from the garden
Fresh beans from the garden