Winter Is Back…

snowYesterday all the snow was melting and it was 50 degrees. Birds were singing.

Today…winter is back.

So I decided it was a pea soup kind of day…



Posted in Uncategorized

Replacement for canned condensed cream of… soup

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup milk

salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in pan, stir in flour and cook, stirring rapidly until thick.  Slowly pour in broth while stirring,  then stir in milk. Cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper.

This can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

You can vary this by adding mushrooms, sauteed celery, etc.

Posted in Food Recipes

Homemade Soap

I have been making a lot of soap!  I have about 80 bars now, I think that will be enough for some time.  I plan to give some for Christmas presents.

My first attempt was a simple recipe I found for equal amounts of coconut oil and olive oil.  That soap is very hard!  Then I went on to a recipe from Rhonda at Down To Earth.  This soap has cured for 2 months now.  It is ok, but it took a long time to cure (harden) and it is not very sudsy.  Third try was a plain lard soap.  This soap became hard quickly and is a nice white color.  It is ok.  I like my 4th try of mostly lard with the addition of coconut oil.  The coconut oil helps make the soap sudsier.

Some of the lard/coconut oil soap was grated up to use in my homemade laundry detergent and it worked well.  But on my next batch I used 1/2 my soap and 1/2 Fels Naptha.  I felt the Fels would make a little more power to it. In one lard recipe I added some ground oats and honey.  In another batch I added buttermilk powder and honey.

In the picture on the bottom is a box of cured soap 3 layers deep!

homemade soap drying

Posted in Household Recipes

Making Chicken Stock/Broth

Whether I cook a whole chicken or chicken pieces, I save the bones and skin and any liquid and make homemade chicken stock.  The other day I cooked a whole chicken in the roaster.  I used some of the meat for dinner that night and stripped the rest off the bones and froze it.  Then I put the bones and skin back in the roaster with what was left in the bottom of the roaster.  Covered with water and cooked on low for about 6 or more hours.  Then I strained out the bones and stuff and chilled the broth in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, skim off the fat that hardens on top of the broth.

I used to freeze the broth, but since I got a pressure canner this year, I prefer to can the broth to keep in the pantry.  Bring the broth back to a boil.  Then pour into the jars and can according to your canners instructions.  I got 5 pints of broth from this time around.

You can add vegetables during the cooking time, carrots, celery, onions, whatever you like.  I generally keep my broth plain and simple and I also don’t add much salt.  But if you cooked a chicken and it had seasonings on it, that will give it a little more flavor.  If you only have a few bones you can save them in the freezer until you have a large pot full, then make your broth.  Do add the skins also.  After you have strained your broth, if it is watery tasting, just cook it down to condense it.

Having homemade chicken broth in the pantry is great to have around for things like rice cooked in broth, soups, casseroles, dog food.  I sometimes keep the hardened fat for using when I need a bit of grease for cooking.

Posted in Canning, Food Recipes, Pantry

On My Mind – Missing My Marine On His Birthday

This post is part of a Friday photo feature called “On My Mind” over at the Down to Earth Blog.

Today all I can think about is my youngest, his birthday is today and it is the first time he has been away on his birthday in all his 24 years.

Posted in On My Mind

Added to Pantry

The other day I made some tomato jam. Its a sort of ketchup type thing with a little kick. The great thing was I did not need to peel and de-seed the tomatoes!! Just chop and put in large pan. Sugar added, spices – cinnamon, cloves, red pepper and cook till thick. I did the pepper very light and it gave just a hint of peppery. I think it turned out very well.

Today I made 7 pints of applesauce (10 lbs apples).

Posted in Canning

Canning Dried Beans

Yesterday I tried canning some dried beans so I could have some ready to go when I need them. I had read to be sure to leave a good amount of liquid in the jar before processing. I soaked 2 kinds of beans overnight (black-eyed peas and black beans). Then in the morning I cooked them for about 1/2 hour and then put them in jars to process. The black beans are small and I think they were cooked a little more than the black-eyed peas and they do have a bit of liquid left in the jars. But the black-eyed peas I think I over packed as they have no more liquid in the jars. I will use one of the jars today and see how they are and adjust the way I can them next time around.

Note: I opened a jar of the black-eyed peas. They were properly cooked and not dried out even though there was no liquid left. I used them in some garlicky chicken/broth/vegetable combination left from the other day and the resulting soup was very delicious!

Posted in Canning

Canning Inventory

white potatoes 14 pints
sweet potatoes 3 quarts
beans 17 pints
corn 5 pints
tomato sauce 5 quarts, 6 pints
Italian tomato sauce 2 pints
tomato juice 3 quarts, 4 pints
tomato jam 3 pints
peaches 7 1/2 pints
pumpkin 3 quarts
peach sauce 1 pint
applesauce 2 pints, 6 pints added 10-6
cranberry sauce 1 pint
sweet pickles 6 pints, 2 1/2 pints
dill pickles 3 pints
sweet pickle relish 5 1/2 pints
green tomato relish 9 1/2 pints
pickled turnips & carrots 3 pints
pickled beets 3 1/2 pints
chicken broth 4 pints
chicken thighs 6 pints
beef stew meat 6 pints
black-eyed peas 4 pints
chili flavored black beans 4 pints
grape jelly 14 1/2 pints
plum-apple jam 3 1/2 pints
strawberry jam 2 1/2 pints
pineapple jam 1 1/2 pints
butternut squash 6 pints
Posted in Canning, Pantry

More in the pantry


5 more 1/2 pints of wild grape jelly – that’s the last of the juice from the grapes growing wild in the backyard.  Went to the Wyandotte Farmers market and got some more small potatoes to can (6 pints).  4 more pints of pickles from the last cucumbers from my garden.

Glad I canned the pumpkins I grew (2 quart jars), today I read that pumpkin may be in short supply again this year.

Posted in Uncategorized

Pantry Update

Yesterday I reorganized the pantry AGAIN!

I moved the jams, relishes and pickles to the chiffrobe in the living room because I will need to be able to get to them for gifting and the pantry was just too full to do that easily.  In the pantry I have tomatoes, juice, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green and yellow beans, corn, chicken broth, peaches  along with all my other store bought pantry items.  I don’t have enough canned for the winter, I will make a trip to the farmers market tomorrow, and maybe to Blocks also.  The beans canned good, but the corn tastes no different than store bought canned corn, I prefer frozen. The white potatoes from my garden are very good.  So glad I did get my pressure canner.

I made some more soap using the little plastic molds Caitlin got me.  I did not grease the molds before putting the soap in them, I hope that wasn’t a mistake.

Have been using the lard/coconut oil soap for cleaning a lot.  Coconut is supposed to be a good cleaner but a bit drying for skin.  Just rub the soap on a wet washcloth and go.  Seems to work real well and doesn’t leave a soap film.  I will make some more lard soap soon as I plan on some for Christmas giving.

I have about $400 left in my Food Stamps account.  Won’t be getting any more.  I don’t know if adding Billy as a family member would be of any benefit.  He started his new job but I don’t know what kind of schedule he will have.

Today is fall weather, September 14.  Time to get the garden to bed.  Still some green tomatoes out there to ripen and some butternut squash.  The squash got such a late start, I hope they will ripen before frosts, the stems are still very green.  Still have to clean up the shrub mess and finish trimming the driveway shrubs.  I told Doyle he could come finish it but I suspect he has forgotten and I will have to do it myself. We will see how my hip is feeling.  Getting old is no fun.

I would really like a bread machine, or a working oven.

Posted in Uncategorized