Sunday, August 28, 2011


We have had such a nice mild summer this year.  The temperature has been perfect.  Not to hot and not humid. 

This week, they said we were going to start to finally get hot.  YUCK!  But hey, it's almost September so I can't really complain to much.

I thought it would be a perfect day to head out the local Farmer's Market and get some fresh air and maybe do some shopping, before it got to hot out.

I love seeing all the beautiful colors of the freshly picked fruits and veggies.  Plus, knowing all this wonderful food was grown by local farmers makes it even better.

I almost broke down and bought some of the Heirloom tomatoes so I could can more salsa.  Then I decided against it.  It's getting to hot for that now.

I love there is so much more at the Farmers Markets then just fresh fruit and veggies.  They had some beautiful looking herbs for sale.

There were several different types of fruit trees to purchase.  I thought about getting a grape vine so I could have some home grown grapes but then gave up that idea too as I don't really have the room to grow these.

The flowers were so colorful and were much cheaper then buying them at the stores around here.

We listened to this guy for a little while.  He was very interesting.  He was showing us how to grow a lot of things in a small area. 

I'm thinking that maybe this would be a good idea to do next year.  I don't have a lot of room to plant things in my back yard but this can be built and put in places where there is no soil. 

The guy said to make the boxes about 4 times as big as the one he had here.

There were so many dips, salsas, humus and other yummy goods sold here.

There were a lot of the gourmet food trucks there.  So many great things to pick from.  Boy these food trucks sure have come a long way from when I was growing up.

I watched the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network just the other day and so it was fun seeing what they all sold.  Have you seen that show?

This one did seem to be selling the most.  Nothing like fruit flavored ice on a hot day.

Wow!  Who knew the King was still alive.  He entertained everyone with his songs.  You could even have him come to your parties or buy his CD.  To be honest, he really did sound like Elvis.  He had to be the best sounding Elvis, since Elvis himself.

I think was my favorite place.  Homemade cookies.  I had a chocolate chip chili cooking.  It was a great chocolate chip that left a little kick in your mouth after you swallowed.  Not overly hot but just right.

I can't believe I've never been to a local Farmers Market before.  Do you go to them?  If you haven't, you should. 

There is a lot of good things there and it was really fun.  Everyone was so friendly and all the food was very good.

I'll be checking out more local Farmers Markets by me in the near future.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


When I first started canning, a few years ago, I didn't have any "proper" equipment. 

I started out making jam.  I just used a large pot I had, poured the hot jam into the jars without a funnel(yes I burned myself many times), used regular tongs to pick up the hot jars out of the water bath and so on.

I also didn't have any canning cook books.  I just would use the recipes that came with the pectin I was using.

Everything turned out just fine.  Though it did cause more work (and pain) for me.

However, if you are like me, you don't want to spend a lot of money buying stuff for a new hobby if you are not sure you will like it.

That is why I'm posting about this now.  For you who have not canned because you didn't think you had the right supplies and didn't want to buy things right now.

My advise to you is...get the things you need for free.

Yes, you heard me.  I said FREE.  I got lots of things for free by posting an ad on FreeCycle. 

So many people used to can and no longer due.  So they are willing to pass along what they have.

Like this big canning water bath and inside it even has the rack to lift the jars out of the hot water.

I got free jars and some even had the rings with them.  If not, they don't cost much.  A lot less then buying jars.

I got some free lids and a proper jar lifter/tongs.  Trust me, it's much easier to use these then just regular tongs.  These kind grasp the jars and you are less like to drop them.

One lady even gave me a cook book on canning and preserving.  There are a lot of great recipes in this book.

You could also post a wanted ad on Craigslist, ask friends/family, go to garage sales and estate sales.  Even sometimes you can find items at thrift stores for next to nothing.

So, don't let not having the proper equipment stop you from trying your hand at canning.  Yes, the proper equipment does make it nicer and easier but you don't have to go out and spend a lot of money.  You can make due with what you already have.

Once I found out how much I loved to can I did go out and buy most everything I needed.  Getting the free stuff was great though because now I have a back up system, I can have others help me can and get done in 1/2 the time or I can teach my girl scouts how to can and we will have enough equipment.

The only thing I really still want to get is a pressure canner.  That way I can can soups, sauces and veggies.  I've already put it on my Christmas wish list.

I hope you will think about canning if you have never done it before.  Things taste so much better when you make it yourself.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Jelly is much easier to make then jam.  You just use juice rather then the whole fruit. 

If you don't make your own juice then making jelly is pretty darn fast.

I love grape jelly.  But, the only kind I like is Welch's grape jelly.  The other brands just don't thrill me. 

I had thought about making my own juice with fresh grapes but that just seemed like to much work for me to do right now.  Besides, what if I didn't like it either. 

I thought that maybe if I used Welch's grape juice it would turn out like Welch's jelly.   After I started to make the jelly, I noticed, it wasn't really grape juice I had.  It was actually a "Concord Grape Flavored Fruit Cocktail".

What!  I turned it over and saw it was a blend of three grapes, water and sugar.  I wasn't sure what was going to happy to my jelly now.  Yet, I carried on to find out.

I got my jars ready in the hot water bath.

The lids were on simmer, getting the rubber ring nice and soft.

I had my CERTO/pectin open and ready to be poured.

Then I poured in four cups of juice and 7 cups of sugar in the pot and mixed it well.

Even though my jelly recipe does not call for lemon I thought since I wasn't using fresh grapes, I would go ahead and add it.

I put in 4 tablespoons.  NO, you can't taste it once it's all mixed in.

I then brought it all to a boil and added in the CERTO/pectin.  I let it come back to a boil and stirred it for one minute. 

I poured the hot jelly into the hot jars.  Be careful!  Don't burn yourself.  Pour your jelly into the funnel and don't just dump it all right in or it will splash up and burn you.  Pour the jelly onto the funnel and let it pour in that way.

Put the lids and rings on your jars and then process them in a water bath for 10 mins.  Remove and let cool.

That's all there is to it!  You will have 7 to 8 jars of fresh made Grape Jelly.

I had a little bit of jelly left over.  Not enough to pour into a jar.  I just poured into a little bowl and stuck it in refrigerator.  I checked it after it was cold.  It set perfectly and the taste was soooo good!

I knew I had a winner here!  So, I made another batch for gifts. 

I really hope you will try this recipe too.  It's quick.  It's easy and it's oh so good!

I'm linking up to Canning Week.  You can go read about what everyone else is canning by clicking on here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I hope you are enjoying the posts about canning.  From the emails I've been getting I think you are.

So, today I thought I would share how to can pickles.

This was the first year I've made my own pickles and to be honest, I have not yet tried them but they sounded really good to me and they are so easy to make.

Start with washing all your cucumbers.  Make sure you use the pickling cucumbers and not the normal ones you find at the grocery store.  They have been waxed and will not allow the brine to soak through properly.  Plus, they have to big and to many seeds.

Cut your cucumbers into the shape you wanted.  I cut them in spears and into "chips" for hamburgers and sandwiches.   You could leave them whole too it you like.

Just make sure you cut off the tip of the cucumber where the flower was attached.  For some reason this section has some enzymes in it that doesn't do well when making pickles.

You are going to need pickling or kosher salt.  Do not use table salt as it will not work well in this recipe.

To make the brine, you will need 2 cups of white vinegar and 2 cups of water.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring it to a full rolling boil.

While your brine is boiling, get your jars and other ingredients together.

Place one garlic clove and some fresh dill (you could also use dill seeds) to the bottom of the jar.  Then pack in your cucumbers.

Be sure to pack them pretty tight.  This will keep your cucumbers from floating in the brine when you add it.

Once they are all packed, it's time to pour the hot brine into the jars.  Use a funnel and pour slowly to allow the brine to get all the way to the bottom of the jars. 

Fill the jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space at the top. 

Use a knife, small spatula or bamboo skewer and press the cucumbers together to get any trapped air bubbles that may be in your jar. 

After doing this, you may need to top off the jars with more brine.

Wipe the rims of the jars, set the lids on and tighten the rings. 

Place jars in your boiling water canner and process for 10 minutes.  Lift them out and let them sit.

Once you hear the pings of the jars being sealed you are done! 

No wait!  Don't eat them yet.  I know you will want to but you must wait at least 2 weeks.  Waiting even longer will make them even better.

These will last in a cool dry place for at least a year.

I have one more week then I can't wait any longer.  I'm going to open up a jar and try them out.

I'm linking up to Show and Tell over at My Romantic Home and Foodie Friday over at Designs by Gollum.    Please stop by and see what other fun things people are showing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Summer fruits are so good.  The only bad thing is they don't stick around for very long. 

Soon, summer will be gone and so will the sweet flavor of the fruits. 

In order to savor those wonderful flavors all year long you can can them. 

I've shown you how easy it is to turn fruit into jam.  If you missed it, you can find it by clicking on here.

Some of you may not like jam or you have already mastered the art of canning jam.  So, it's time to move on to other things.

Today, I'm going to show you how easy it is to can the fruit directly.  Yes, it's even easier then making jam.

First you need decide how many jars of peaches you want to can.  I had purchased a case at Costco.  I forget how many are in there.  I think maybe about 15 or so.

Peel the peaches and slice them however you like.  You can cut them in 1/2 if you like but I like my peaches in slices. 

Make sure you remove the skin on all the peaches and remove the pit.

You then need to make a syrup.  I found a heavy syrup is what I like. 

For a heavy syrup you use:

4 3/4 cups of sugar
4 cups of water

Then bring it to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add your peaches.  Stir and bring back to a boil.  Once you have a boil with the peaches, you are ready to can them.

Remove the hot peaches from the stove.  Pour into your prepared hot jars.  Seal and put it a water bath for 25 mins.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

That's it!  Now you have fresh peaches to enjoy all year long. 

I've linked up on the Canning Week.  Go here to see other yummy canning recipes.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I've been making jam for several years now and I adore it.  Every year I get excited when the Summer fruits start popping up because I know that means yummy homemade jam is just around the corner.

The only thing I regret about canning is that I didn't learn how to do it sooner.  I always thought it was so hard. 

I was wrong!  It's a bit scary at first but once you learn the steps, it's easy as can be.  Yes, it does take time and you are tired when you finish but it is EASY.

I've taught several friends and family how to can.  It is more fun if  you do with someone else.  Plus, it's less work if you have someone to share it with. 

Yet, no matter if you can with someone or alone, it is still easy.    Still not sure if you believe me or not.  I'll prove it to you.

I had my 10 year old niece come over and taught her how to take these apricots and starting with washing them, she did every step it took to make her own batch of jam.

I love that she came over wearing shades of orange.  It matches the jam we were making.  Even the apron she is wearing has an apricot on it.  To cute.

Anyway, back to making the jam. 

She cut the apricots herself.

Took the pits out.

Ground them up in the food processor.  You could just cut them up by hand if you don't have a food processor.

She measured out the fruit, sugar and even squeezed and measured the lemon juice.

She added everything to the pot and mixed it together.

She cooked the ingredients in a pot and stirred it until it came to a boil and added the pectin.  Stirred one more minute and then removed the pot from the stove.  OK, I actually removed the pot from the stove because I didn't want her to get burn or drop the hot mixture.

She poured the hot jam into the jars. 

She made sure to leave enough room from the top of the jar.

I did step back in to help her put the jars into the boiling water bath.  Sometimes the water pops up and let me tell's hot!

Ten minutes later, her jam was finished and we listened for the popping sounds to let us know the jars all sealed properly. 

I told her, when she gets married,  her husband will be happy that she makes homemade jam for him.

She looked up at me and said "Forget about the husband!  I'm making jam for myself.  If I get married my husband will be lucky if I share it with him."

I had to laugh at her.  She can be so funny at times.

So there you have it.  If a ten year old can make homemade jam, you surely can.  I promise you won't be sorry if you do.  I can also promise, once you eat jam you make yourself, you will not want to eat store bought jam again.

The recipe we used is:

3 1/2 cups very finely chopped apricots.  Leave skin on.
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
5 3/4 cups sugar
1 pouch CERTO (liquid pectin)

Add all ingredients except CERTO to pan and bring to a boil.  Stir so it does not burn.  Once you have a full boil, add the pouch of CERTO.  Bring back to boil and cook for 1 min.  Do not over cook or under cook as it won't set properly.

Then pour hot jam into jars, seal with lids and cook in water bath for 10 mins.

Be sure you learn about how to prep your jars and lids before you start to make your jam.

If you have any questions, let me know.  I would be happy to answer any of your questions.

I've linked up to Canning Week and you can go here to find more yummy posts.
I'm linking up to Made From Scratch Tues. over at From Mess Hall to Bistro.  If you have not been there, go over and vote for your favorite recipe.