Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Stuff

I could have sworn I had written a post about this. Apparently I forgot to tell y'all, but I have new appliances. Well, a  new stove and dishwasher. The refrigerator will be soon--not soon enough though! My sister moved into a condo with white appliances and she had a brand new black refrigerator that didn't sell with her house. The builder wouldn't switch the appliances to black, so we bought them from her (mid July).  This is the first time in all the years the hubbs and I have been together, that I have kitchen appliances never used by anyone else. They aren't fancy but I really like how the  white appliances provide an uninterrupted visual line with the  white cabinets in my kitchen.

The new stove is a glass top. Aesthetically it is beautiful, all shiny and clean lines. Although the OCD me freaks out at all the smudges, smears and spots. A big reason as to why I don't have stainless steel appliances. Such a big difference from the old (and I do mean old, >20 yrs) coil top electric stove.  I love the oven, because it has convection capability. It has been a slight learning curve using the glass top. I really wanted a gas cooktop but, oh well, that is a someday dream.

One thing I found out about using a glass top is all cookware needs to be smooth bottomed.  My 21 quart waterbath canner has a concave bottom. It is one of those old speckled enamelware pots. We found it tucked in the very back of the kitchen cabinet when we bought our house in 2000. Who knows how long it had been in use prior to that. The previous owners lived here for 55 yrs. So it  was time to retire the old water bath canner.

Our date day this past Saturday was to Rural King (the romance is real). Long story short, I was going to pass on the canner I found because of the price but the hubbs strong armed me into buying it. It was kinda pricey ($79.99) but then I found it normally retails for $100. So now I have a very sturdy, flat bottomed, stainless steel water bath canner. Bonus is the canning rack from the old canner fits the new one. And wow wee does this hold the heat!  My favorite thing with the new canner is the clear lid so I can see what is going on with my jars.

So shiny!
 I already  broke it in canning salsa. I had a really good harvest of tomatoes this weekend. So I put the new waterbath canner to good use. I canned 9 pints of salsa and ended up with 2 & 3/4 quarts of a beautiful red sauce.

8 lbs of nekkid tomatoes, with another 11 lbs to go for sauce
Salsa in progress of cooking down and of course-a taste test

This sauce was AMAZING! I used fresh herbs from my garden-basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary. I seasoned with some salt, pepper, minced garlic and onion. OOOHWEEE, so good!

So far the new water bath canner (and stove) seem to be going well. I have, possibly an irrational fear, I am going to ruin or break my stove. By scratching it or dropping something.

Or break it because of too much weight--which is why I have not yet used the pressure canner on the glass cooktop.

Because we have all seen the pressure canner/ glass cooktop fiasco on Snopes, right?

Yeah, so I am kind of petrified... I mean imagine all the weight of the pressure canner, filled with quart jars...

Does anyone out there use their glass cooktop to pressure can?  I really need advice.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Great Garage Clean Out

Or an alternate title..."how to not be a hoarder." Which by the looks of things we, errr..were..are trying to not be!

I don't have any before pics to share because it was bad. Oh so bad!

4th of July weekend, I decided to take advantage of the cool, rainy weather-combined with the fact the hubbs was gone for the day to attack the hoard pile. Here is the de-crappifying in progress. My kid came to help, otherwise I may not have survived.

We sorted into to trash (I ran out of garbage cans), stuff for the scrapper to pick up, a small section of donate and and a small section of keep.  The trash portion took 4 weeks to dispose of all the stuff completely. I am STILL waiting on the scrapper to stop by. And every week I have taken a small donation to Goodwill on my way to the grocery, so it was manageable for me.

Unbeknownst to the hubbs, I plan on completely reorganizing the garage. Where to go for inspiration? Why, PINTEREST of course!

Compact, swing out storage for plywood and drywall.

Popular Woodworking
Overhead lattice to store pvc pipe, copper pipe, or any lightweight length of building materials

Organized storage for all the cordless drills, batteries and chargers


Organize his fishing poles from this

to this

You would think the hoarding issue would have been the main reason I was motivated to clean the garage. Sadly, no. The real reason was this small jail cell looking space (assuming this is what jail cell's look like). The hubbs uttered the words, "well if you clean it out you can have it", in response to my idea for the space. Haha-- the fool. He didn't think I would clean it out. He was wrong!

This is the secret new project! Perhaps not a complete secret. It still needs a lot of work before I can reveal what purpose this room will serve.  The rest of the stuff needs moved.  Some electrical needs moved. We need to frame and add insulation, drywall, etc...

Here is a mock up for the garage reorganization. When this is completed we will actually be able to use the garage for it's intended purpose  and park a car in the garage bay.

I have to say it feels good to have a project. Well, a project to divert my attention from all the other projects I don't want to do, haha. And it feels good to get rid of so much unnecessary stuff.  We will have more funds this month, because we recently refinanced the house and did some debt consolidation.  Hopefully ALL of the outstanding projects will soon be addressed since our money woes are now a thing of the past. Life is very good my friends. 

Anyone else have super secret project or de-crappify their house?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

2016 International Can-It-Forward Day

July 22, 2016 was the 6th annual International Can It Forward Day! 

The Can It Forward tradition began as a way to share the joy of canning. You don't have to be a foodie, a gardener or a canner to participate or enjoy the "fruits" of labor.  

The last few years have seen a resurgence in the art of home canning and food preservation. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to learn. Whether it is to continue a family tradition, to have better control of your food chain or you simply want to learn to make sauce from a bounty of garden tomatoes, there are plenty of resources from which one can use.

In honor of Can It Forward, the following sites posted recipes or hosted videos.

My contribution to Can it Forward was one of my favorite recipes, 2 day Zesty Zucchini relish. This is one of the first 3 recipes I learned to can when I took my canning boot-camp. If you do a search on the "interweb" as the hubbs likes to call it, you will find quite a few variations of zucchini relish. Mine is a 4-2-1 ratio recipe and is somewhat similar to the Ball recipe. But of course I have to tweak it and put my own stamp on the recipe.

9-10 half pint jars
water bath canner
magnetic wand for lids
paper towels
heavy kitchen towels
heavy baking sheet
non-reactive stock pot
small saucepan or tea kettle of hot water to activate rings
measuring cups/ spoons
sharp knife
1 or 2 gallon Ziploc bags

8 cups cubed zucchini 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups diced onion
1 cup of diced red pepper
6 tablespoons of canning salt
2 & 2/3 cups apple cider vinegar, natural, No caramel coloring added
2 cups of firmly packed brown sugar
1 &1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
2 level teaspoons of dry powdered mustard
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 and 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice  (I pick out the cinnamon stick if using store bought)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon shredded horseradish

DAY 1:Clean, destem and remove bad spots from all vegetables.
Dice all vegetables into 1/2 inch cubes.
Place diced, rinsed vegetables into a large ziploc bag with canning salt.
Cover with enough cool water to cover.
Store in refrigerator overnight.

DAY2: Assemble canning supplies
Wash jars, rings, ladle and funnel.
place jars on a heavy duty tray in a preheated oven (mine is digital so I set it to 215°F)
Fill water bath canner with the correct volume of water, so it will cover the the jars by 1-2 inches. Bring to boil and hold temperature steady.
Drain and rinse vegetables. Press to remove as much water as possible.
In a separate, non-reactive stock pot-Combine Vinegar, brown sugar, spices. Bring to a slow boil.
Add the vegetables to the vinegar solution. Bring to a rapid boil, stir and cook for 7 minutes.
Remove jars from oven

Remove from heat and ladle into the hot jars.
Break up any air pockets and leave 1/2 inch headspace.
Use a paper towel dipped in hot water (remove excess water) to wipe the rim of the jar.
Remove lids from hot water bath, tap off excess water and apply rings finger tight.
Process in the water bath for 10 minutes. (Time begins when water has resumed rapid boil)
I did small batch canning, processing 4 jars at a time. I recently installed a glass cooktop, so I am nervous about the weight of the canner.
At the end of the 10 minutes, removes the jars carefully and place on folded towels in a draft free location.
You will hear the sound of success almost immediately--the metallic ping as the lids pop close.
Leave the jars undisturbed until completely cooled. Check the lid for flex--there shouldn't be any!
If the jars failed to seal, place in the refrigerator immediately and use within 2 weeks.
Otherwise remove the rings, wipe down the jars, label and then enjoy.
This recipe makes 8 full half pint jars and a 3/4  half pint jar which is my "taste jar".  I don't process the taste jar, it goes directly to the refrigerator.
Properly canned, this is shelf stable for a year. Not that it lasts that long!

My favorite use of this relish is in chicken, egg, potato or macaroni salads. Sometimes just a spoonful by itself, too.

**DISCLAIMER** I am not a professional or expert canner. Any recipe and instructions posted on this blog is for informational purposes only and does not serve as a legal liability. Please refer to to your local state extension office for help and always follow proper canning protocol.
When in doubt--Throw it out!