Canning, Hemming, and Haircuts

I’ve been all domesticy the past few days around here! I originally wanted to have a bigger garden so I could can lots of tomato products and peppers and other produce but somehow babies just take a lot of time and that did not happen this year! We did plant a garden but it was limited and I eventually quit watering it (that part wasn’t the baby’s fault… I always quit watering the garden by July).  But, despite me, I did get a lot of tomatoes and some peppers and potatoes and Joe had 4 special hot pepper plants that produced a few peppers as well.  We also had one small sad green pumpkin growing but when I went to pick it it was getting a bit squishy already so I gave it right to the chickens.  My eggplant and several pepper plants didn’t produce anything.

The recent cold weather dashed my hopes of having a lot of red, ripe tomatoes and I ended up with a few sort-of-red tomatoes and a lot of very green tomatoes to find things to do with.  One day last week James and I went out and harvested every last tomato and pepper growing out there and did some fall cleanup.  All the tomatoes ended up going into two types of salsa.  The green tomatoes went into a batch of their own green tomato salsa and then the red tomatoes joined some store tomatoes in a batch of regular salsa.

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Thursday night I finished up 5 pints of green tomato salsa, and also got 5 pints of cinnamon apple sauce too.  Then Sunday I got 8 half-pints of regular salsa done.  Not too bad for a minimal garden! We do have apple trees but the apples I used were just in-season apples from the store.  I might take a look at our tiny apples and see if they could be used easily otherwise I’ll pick them for the chickens like I usually do and leave some for the deer.

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Friday I switched gears and finally got out my sewing machine to hem some of James’ pants.  He is almost 11 months old and comfortably wearing 18 month clothing except for some of the pants that are too long.  He has pretty much outgrown 12 month pants, he still wears a couple pairs at home but they are too short and a bit tight and it was overdue of me to fix his bigger sizes for him to wear.  So I managed to hem 3 pairs of pants and then I started on a pair of Joe’s shorts that need new elastic.  I’m not finished with those yet and I’ve never replaced elastic so hopefully they turn out.  I’ve also got a quilt to finish (that I started over 8 year ago! and finally got out to do the last bit), I need to make James a Halloween costume, one of my jackets needs a new zipper and I might try my hand at taking in a pair of Joe’s pants but that may be beyond my current sewing abilities.

Lastly, since I was being all do-it-yourself for a few days, I made a few pizza kits to keep in the freezer for when we need food and don’t want to cook and I also gave James a little bit of a hair trim!  He doesn’t have a lot of hair yet but was working on a nice mullet and he had a few really long hairs up top that need a trim too.  I did not take a before and after like I should have but it looks alright.  I think I did a good job and then I went back to do some more and there are a few chop marks in his hair on the back… I will need some practice but cutting his hair (at least as long as he will let me) will save a lot of money!  I think I seem a nice pair of clippers and maybe a nice pair of hair scissors in my future! I may, or may not have, used my sewing scissors this first time 🙂

 

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Dehydrating Vegetables

Yesterday/today I worked on dehydrating some vegetables.  We had an entire head of celery that had gotten a bit floppy while we were gone over the weekend.  I read about trying to revive it but it didn’t work so I decided to dry it instead and make celery flakes/powder so it didn’t go to waste.  I was also debating trying to make some veggie crackers so I decided to dry some onion and carrots as well.

I ended up filling our dehydrator with one sheet of onion, two sheets of celery and one sheet of carrots.  In total I used about 1.25 onions, 5 carrots, and 2/3 of a head of celery and I got 2-3 Tablespoonsful of flakes/powder for each one.  Definitely not a lot of results for how much food I put into the dehydrator but then, in the case of the celery especially, it’s better to use it than not so it still wasn’t a waste.  I tried veggie crackers but my recipe isn’t right yet so I won’t share those until I get a good one.  The powder I made will probably be used up in my attempts to make a good homemade cracker but they would also be great in recipes like soup or maybe even hiding them in other foods… I’ve never seen a recipe call for carrot powder, but why not add it to things if you have it? A little carrot powder in spaghetti sauce couldn’t hurt!

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J sampling celery for the first time and keeping me company while I chopped veggies.

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Trays ready for the dehydrator.

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My carrot slices were too thick so once they were dehydrated they were hard to crush.  I wanted more of a flake/powder but got small dehydrated pieces instead.  I tried our small food processor but it was so loud that it upset James when he was downstairs and I’m afraid to try it when he is sleeping for fear of waking him up!  Who knew dried carrots were so stiff and hard?  The onion flakes and celery flakes/powder worked much better!  I did crush all three of them by hand though in our mortar.

Beef Jerky Pt 2, Garlic Powder, Ice Crystals, Big Boy Bath

More of the same cold today, and now we are getting lots of snow too! Bonus for us! Poor Joe is outside plowing now and then we will have supper.  I hate these kinds of days when there is so much snow because he doesn’t get to spend as much time with us! He did at least get to say Hello to James after work quick, otherwise he wouldn’t see him at all! I went out and shoveled the end of the driveway for like 45 minutes earlier during nap time and I hardly got very far.  The bump at the end of the driveway is gigantic and so hard to shovel but I tried! The banks down there are almost as tall as I am and I even have a hard time chucking shovelfuls of snow up over the top.  According to the weather cam we have had about 103 inches of snow so far and roughly 58 on the ground right now.  The weather cam is up the hill from us about 3 miles away.  We are protected by the hill and are down towards the bottom of it so we probably get a bit less here at the house than the weather cam does but we still have plenty.

The beef jerky I mentioned yesterday was finished this afternoon.  At about 13 hours I took it off the parchment paper and let it finish in the dehydrator for 2 more hours just on the trays straight out.  Then I took it out, broke it into pieces along the lines I cut and sampled it! It turned out pretty good for being my first time and ground beef too!  Joe tried some when he got home and he only said I needed a bit more salt and to make it a bit thinner too… but otherwise it turned out! I’m excited, it was so easy.  There is a link to a full tutorial from my blog post yesterday but pretty much all you do is season your ground beef/meat however you want… for 2lb of meat I used 1-1.5 teaspoonsful of salt, garlic powder, chipolte pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes and cumin.  I think I could have made it a bit spicier and like Joe mentioned added more salt as well.  Then you mix it all up and flatten the mixture onto dehydrator trays.  If you only have the trays with holes in them you have to get either the solid plastic trays or put parchment paper on the trays first. Then put it on the meat setting, ours is 155 degrees F, for 12-18 hours.  I settled for 15 hours and like I mentioned the last two hours I took the jerky off the parchment paper and placed the rounds directly on the trays to finish up.

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I also read about making homemade garlic powder yesterday and since we bought two new heads of garlic last night I decided to use up the old, going bad, garlic heads to make garlic powder.  They weren’t really going bad, but they were definitely sprouting! Still perfectly edible but not as fresh as the new ones so into the dehydrator they went!

First I actually planted three of the cloves… I read somewhere else that you can grow garlic with them so I am trying that in a little pot on the windowsill.  The rest of the cloves were sliced, placed on parchment paper and put in with the beef jerky for a few hours.  I just moved the jerky down incase it dripped grease and put the garlic on the top layer.  The garlic is done when it crumbles in your fingers… some of my garlic took longer than other pieces and I just took it out as it was ready.

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Old cloves of garlic getting shucked and sliced

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These three lucky cloves got planted in a pot and sprinkled with vegetable plant food

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Sliced cloves on the dehydrator tray

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Dried cloves being ground into powder with our mortar and pestle.  You could also use a food processor.  I ended up with more than one-eight cup but less than one-fourth cup of ground garlic powder.  It’s just as fine as store bought and smells good and garlicky! Two successes in one day is pretty lucky!

Here are a few other photos of the day today! There have been ice crystals on my chicken coop windows for weeks now.  I can’t remember the last time I could see through them but I finally took a photo of them today.  The girls are cold, but not below 0 in there yet.  When I went in this morning it was just under 20 degrees.  Their water freezes each night so each morning I bring it inside, thaw it out, refill it with hot water, and then take it back outside.  The girls (and manly rooster!) have hot water to warm themselves up in the morning and then the water stays liquid all day, finally freezing again at night.

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Chicken coop ice crystals.  Very pretty, but very cold.

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And here was our big boy’s second real bath in his bath tub! I was feeling so ambitious this evening.  He did well. He peed in the tub again, he did last time too, but both times he has shot the pee out of his own tub and into the big tub so he never even got his water dirty.  Just waiting for the day he does something else in the tub…

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Cora came in to inspect my bath giving abilities and commiserated with the baby that she also gets forced baths in here and doesn’t much appreciate them herself.  She would prefer to be dirty.  In fact, she is dirty, and little does she know she is on the list to get her own bath in the near future.  Her allergies are still just awful too, can you see the bald patches on her ear? She has many similar patches all over her poor itchy self. Still working on a solution…

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