Saturday, April 28, 2012


Last year I got this great pressure canner for my birthday.  My birthday is May 22nd.  I just used this for the first time yesterday.

Why did it take me so long?  Well, to be honest, I was scared. 

I had heard stories for years about how a pressure canner can explode and how people have really gotten hurt because they used them when they didn't really know how.

So, I waited and waited and waited.  Then I finally got the nerve up.

I have done a lot of research on line about the different types of pressure canners, how to use them and if they are are really safe.  Yes, they are.  As long as you use them how they are meant to be used and you are careful.

They are much safer then they used to be and really easy to use.

Watch a few videos on YouTube if you are scared.  Soon, you will get the nerve to try pressure canning too.

I love beans and so that is what I started with.  Pinto beans.

I had no idea what to do with them.  I never cooked them normally before, let alone try to pressure can them.

I used 4 lbs of dried beans.  I washed them off and pulled out the bad looking ones.  Then I put them in a big pot, covered them with water and let them soak over night.

Wow!  Those suckers soaked up a lot of water and what was 1/2 pan full of beans turned into a full pan.  The pan was so full, I ended up using two pans to cook them.

I rinsed them off again and then put them in two pots, covered them with water and added some garlic powder, onion powder, bay leaf and a little bit of canning salt.

I boiled them for 1/2 hour.  Make sure not to hard boil them as they will end up breaking in 1/2 and the skin comes off.  You can see some of my beans did that even though I used a gentle boil.

Don't cook them longer then 30 mins.  They will finish cooking in the pressure canner. 

Make sure your jars are clean and hot.  Fill up the jars with your beans.  Make sure you leave enough room for juice and for the beans to expand.

Add the hot juice from your cooked beans.  Make sure you leave 1/2 inch head space. 

Seal up the jars and put them in your pressure canner. 
Add boiling water to your canner to the line that it says in your book that comes with your canner.  Each canner is different so be sure to follow the directions for your canner.

Put the lid on and lock it.  Then heat up the canner.  Leave the weight off at first.  You want to see steam coming up for 10 mins to get all the air out of the canner.  Then you add the weight and get your pressure up to 10 pounds.

Make sure you keep the pressure at 10 pounds for 75 mins.

I found I had to sit near by to watch the canner.  It was hard to keep the heat right at 10 lbs.  It would slowly start to go up to almost 11 pounds so I ran and turned the heat down.  Just a tiny bit.

If you turn it down to much, the pressure drop.  If it drops to 9 pounds psi you have to start your time all over again. 

Thankfully I caught mine before it went below the 10 pounds psi.

This was the hardest part of the whole canning day.  Making sure it was at 10 lbs the whole time.

After you cook them for 75 mins.  turn off the heat, move the canner to a cooled burner and let it sit until the pressure drops down to zero.  Make sure the gage says zero and your pop up button on the canner drops down.  This will take about 20-30 mins.

Don't open the canner yet!  Remove the weight and let it sit another 10 mins. 

Then open your canner.  Be sure to open the lid away from you as the steam will still come out and you don't want to get burned.

When you remove the jars, be careful as they are very hot.  In fact, my jars were still boiling inside.

Listen for the pop sound as the jars seal. 

Do not move them for 12-24 hours.  Then you can remove the rings, check the seals and wash the jars off.

That's it!  You now have fresh beans to use in soup, burritos or how ever you want to.

The 4 pounds of dried beans ended up making 15 pint jars.  I only pressure canned 14 of them.  I left one out and just put it in the refrigerator.

I had it tonight for dinner.  They were wonderful! 

I'm so happy I finally got brave enough to use the pressure canner.  I am no longer scared and I have a list a mile long of things I now want to can.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


It is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic today. 

I don't know why but, I'm so drawn to the stories of the Titanic.  The history of the people on board, the way the classes were treated so different back then, the discovery of the ship and just about anything else having to do with the ship.

I've seen the movie so many times and went again this year on the opening day of Titanic 3D.  I loved it just as much as the first day I saw it, years ago.

In 2009 I was lucky enough to get to go on a cruise that made a stop in Halifax in Nova Scotia.  That is where many of those that died are buried. 

One of the shore excursions was a tour of the graveyard and the Titanic Museum.  I wrote about it back on Sept 11, 2009. 

Since it has been three years since it was posted and it is the anniversary of the sinking, I thought I would re post it for any of you who have not read it.

So, here it is:

Our next stop was one I had been really forward to. It was Halifax in Nova Scotia.

Halifax played a big part in the recovery of the passengers on Titanic when she sunk in 1912.

I felt a bit strange the night before we got here because I couldn't help but wonder if we were traveling right over the area where the Titanic sank that long, dark and cold night.

Halifax sent their boat out knowing they were not going on a rescue mission. They were going on a recovery journey. All the living bodies had already been picked up.

Only the bodies of those who died were still left out at sea.

It was a long and hard process trying to identify all the bodies they found. The time the bodies had spent in the ocean had changed the way the people looked. Plus the suction of the ship going down had torn away many of their clothes.

Since the majority of the bodies were buried in Halifax, they also felt having a museum set up with some of the artifacts they found was a good idea.

My tour in Halifax was all about the Titanic and the people on board the ship that fearful night.

In the museum they have the one and only wood deck chair that was recovered from the Titanic.

I couldn't help but wonder if anyone had held onto this chair in an attempt to survive as it floated in the dark sea.

This is one of the cabinets from a first class room.

It made me think about how I had just unpacked my belongings a few nights before and how excited I was to start my trip. Had the person using this cabinet felt the same way as I did?

Some of the silverware that was recovered is also here.

Again, knowing how most people look forward to the evening dinner on our ship and eating all that great food, made me think about who could have been the last person who used these.

Everyone knows the beautiful staircase that was on the Titanic. If not, they had this picture up so you could see how pretty it was.

I find it strange that on most of the cruises I've been on, they use a back drop of these stairs when they take the pictures on formal night.

The staircase had broken up and parts of it was recovered and is on display.

These little child's shoes gives a reminder that not all woman and children made it on the life boats.
It is not known for sure who the shoes belonged to but they are believed to be from a little boy who is buried in the grave site marked Unknown child.
The coroners report listed body number 4 was a boy about two years old with brown shoes. This was the only baby recovered with brown shoes.
As the bodies were removed from the sea, each body was given a number that coincided with the number of bodies removed. So the first body out of the water was given the number 1. The 10th body removed would be given the number 10 and so on.
These shoes belonged to body number 4.

This was a light from a 2nd class cabin.
I almost gasped when I saw this because I have been looking everywhere for one like it for my bathroom. Then there it was. Only all the money in the world couldn't buy this one.
So, if you should ever find one like this for sale please let me know.
These gloves are believed to have belonged to Charles Hays from Montreal as they were recovered with his body.

Even in death, the bodies were treated differently depending on the Class they traveled in.
First class passengers, were removed from the sea and placed in a wooden casket. The 2nd class passengers were placed in placed in canvas bags. The 3rd class passengers were just placed on ice as they did not have enough canvas bags for them.
There were 306 bodies that were recovered. For unknown reasons 116 of them were buried at sea. They were placed in a canvas bag along with a piece of iron to weight the body down. Their clothes and jewelry were left on the bodies.
The bodies are buried in three Halifax graveyards. The White Star Line bought large plots and paid for one size of gravestones. The inscription on the gravestone included the person's name (if known), the date of the sinking and the number that was assigned to the body.
Larger stones or extra wording had to be provided by the families at an additional cost.
We only went to one of the cemeteries, The Fairview Lawn Cemetery.
There are 121 Titanic victims buried here. The graves are lined up in a way that forms a shape of the bow of the ship. The White Star Line had commissioned to have it done this way.
Between the top of the 1st row and 4th row a gap had been left. Some suggest it is to represent the gash that the iceberg had made in the side of the Titanic. There is no documentation that would support this.
The graveyard is large and as you walk through it you notice what appears to be a normal looking graveyard with head stones of all shapes and sizes.
Since bodies are no longer being buried here it is referred to as a graveyard rather then a cemetery.
That is a fact I never knew. I thought they meant the same thing but they don't.

As we walked up to the Titanic area it clearly become a different site. I can't explain the feeling that came over me as we first walked up to the graves.
I felt the need to have a moment to myself. I was so over come with emotion as I saw name after name and I knew these people were like me, on a cruise and happy. Only they never made it to their destination.
You can see the tour group in this photo. Our guide was giving facts and information but I couldn't even listen to him for a few minutes. I had to let it all sink in.
I did notice that some headstones only had the date and body number. I knew that meant they never did find out who that person was. How sad.

I made my way back to the group and listened to the stories of the people who were buried there.
Most of the people who died were men. That was because woman and children were first on the boats. Most of the jewelry was not recovered because the woman would have either left her items on the ship as she thought they would be back before day light, or because she handed her items to her husband as she felt they would be safer there. Only the men never made it on a life boat.

John Shea was the 11th body recovered. The only known information about his was that he was 39 years old, a 1st Class Saloon Steward. He had dark hair, light moustache and lived in Southampton.

Body number 241 was an unidentified male. Probably a Steward about 20 years old with black hair. He was wearing a Steward's uniform.
At first he was thought to have been one of the passengers as he had a calling card of Mr. Stephen W. Blackwell in his pocket. However, Mr. Blackwell was later verified that the body was not Mr. Blackwell.

This grave really tugged at my heart strings. Alam Paulson was only 29 years old and the mother of four children. They were 3rd class passengers and were heading to New York to meet up with her husband who had gone before them to set up a home.
She was seen on the ship with her children before the ship sunk. She was singing and playing the harmonica to them to keep them calm.
They all went down. At first it was thought that the little boy in the unmarked grave was her son, years after their death the little boy was dug up and DNA testing was done on him. It was found he was not her son.
You can see several little gifts that people who visited the grave had left at her headstone. The gifts are thought to be for her children who were never recovered.

This is the grave site of the unknown child. They dedicated this grave to all the unknown children who died that day.
Again, toys were left behind after visitors had been there.

***  Since I first wrote this post, they have done DNA testing and now know the child that is buried here is Sidney Leslie Goodwin from England who was only 19th months old. 
The shoes that are on display in the photo above were his shoes. 
Mr. J. Bruce Ismay is the man who was the President of White Star Line.
Do you remember his character in the movie the Titanic? He quickly jumped on the last life boat even though many people were still left on board. It was he who had the extra life boats removed before the Titanic first sailed.
Mr. Ismay paid to have Mr. Freeman's headstone larger. Mr. Freeman was the Chief Deck Stewart, age 43. Dark hair, fair moustache, blue suit, light overcoat over his pajamas.
Many people saw Mr. Freeman helping others to safety and willing giving up his life for others.

It is said Mr. Freeman saw Mr. Ismay get on the life boat, leaving so many behind.

Most people believe Mr. Ismay paid for the large headstone out of guilt. However, Mr. Ismay made sure he received credit for paying for the headstone as he had it inscribed at the bottom "Erected by Mr. J. Bruce Ismay to commemorate a long and faithful service.

Some of the families had beautiful sayings inscribed on the headstones.

When the movie Titanic was made the director claimed that the names of the main characters were made up.
However, if you remember Leo DiCaprio played the part of Jack Dawson.
Here you see the grave marked with the name J. Dawson.

Many young girls go to this grave and believe it that of Jack Dawson.
The real name of the Mr. Dawson that is buried here is Joseph Dawson, not Jack.

Most of those on the ship that died were young. This man, George Dean was 19.

We had to leave much to quickly for me. I didn't have a chance to read every name on all the headstones.
As we walked away I looked back I wondered if I would ever be back to learn more about all these people.

Oh, one last thing I forgot to share with you is that even today they are still trying to verify who is in the unmarked graves. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes they do find out who is there.

They then add the name of the person to the headstone. Only it is not on the top. It is listed on the face of the headstone. This way they can keep the look of the top of the headstone as it was at the time of burial.
Some bodies were shipped home. Mostly those in first class as the other classes could not afford to pay to have the bodies sent home. White Star Line would only pay to have the bodies buried in Halifax.
Some people were buried in the Jewish cemetery and some were buried in the Catholic cemetery. Since they didn't know what religion most people were they buried them in Fairview which was non denominational.
The Captain went down with the ship. His body was never recovered.

While the day was one of sadness I am so happy I was able to go on this tour. I learned a lot. I also purchased several books to bring home so I can learn more.

I'm not sure why but the Titanic has always held a special place in my heart. Now more so then ever.

Friday, April 13, 2012



Who doesn't love chocolate sauce?  I know I do!  It's so good warmed up on ice cream.  Use it on fruit, like strawberries or mixed with milk to make chocolate milk.  YUM!

I've been searching and searching for a chocolate sauce that I could make that would safe to can also.  Most recipes that has chocolate in it is not safe to can due to the milk and oils in chocolate. 

Yet, I couldn't give up my search for a yummy chocolate sauce that would be shelf stable and I could can to put in gift baskets or give as a gift with some homemade ice cream in the summer.

I was thrilled when I found a recipe (that used coco powder rather then actual chocolate) to use while I was at one of my favorite canning blogs Canning Homemade.  If you have not been there, you should go visit.  She has some wonderful recipes and makes learning how to can easy.

Well, this recipe came from one of her readers, but, I don't know if she has a blog to link back to or not.  If she does and anyone knows what it is, please let me know so I can give her credit. 

Here is her recipe with her picture that was used on the blog Canning Homemade:

Homemade Chocolate Syrup/Sauce

1 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup


In a small pot, on medium heat bring water and sugar to a boil and whisk in cocoa, vanilla, salt, and corn syrup.
Whisk until all of the solids have dissolved. Reduce sauce for another 15 minutes until slightly thickened.

Filling the jars: On a dishtowel place your hot jars. Using your funnel in each jar ladle the mixture into the jars leaving 1/4” head space. Remove air bubbles and refill to the proper head space if necessary. Taking a clean paper towel wet it with warm water and wipe the rims of the jars removing any food particles that would interfere with a good seal. Using your magic wand to extract the lids from the hot water and place them on the now cleaned rims. Add your rings to the tops of each of the jars and turn to seal just "finger tight".

Processing: Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and place the jars in the water bath making sure that the water covers each of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add hot water to the canner if it doesn't measure up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat under the canner and wait for the water to start boiling. Once the water has come to a boil start your timer for 15 minutes. When complete turn off the heat and remove the cover and let the jars sit for another few minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.

Sealing: Some time in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal.

Makes 2- 3 half pints depending on how much you reduce the recipe.
As soon as I read the recipe I quickly ran out to my kitchen and got out all the supplies.  I had Ghiradeli coco powder, so, I used that. 
Let me tell you, when I tasted it from the pan (after all was placed into the jars and before cleaning the pan I let it cool off) it was super good.
I was excited.
I canned mine in 4 oz jars as I know we would use smaller amounts and I didn't want to open up larger cans that may go bad before we used all of it.
I got 8 jars by doing this. 

Tonight, I opened up a jar and poured it over some cut up strawberries.  The sauce was much thicker and creamy.  It was very good! 
I will be making more of this for sure.  I hope you give it a try too.  Let me know if you do.
** Other then using smaller jars, the only thing I did differently was I used a medium sized pan and I let it reduce for 20 mins. rather the 15 mins. listed.  I wanted a thicker sauce.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I love to can and I've been wanting to get my supplies out and can something but I had no idea what.

So, I drove to the local produce store near me and checked out what they had. 

I was going to get some oranges and make marmalade.  Yet, that didn't sound like something I was in the mood for.  I continued to walk around to see what they had that interested me.

I saw some pears that looked really good and the price sounded pretty good too.  I picked up a few and they felt ripe to me. 

So, I got a bag full and figured I would do a small batch to see if I even liked them. 

They are Comice Pears.  I had no idea if they were good or not.  I also had no idea how to can them because I've never canned pears before. 

I searched on line for a recipe and read the directions.  Sounded easy enough.  So, I got to work.

I washed and peeled the skin off the pears.  Cut them up and removed the core and stem and bottom part where it was once the flower.

I made a simple syrup and cooked them for about 5 mins.  They syrup was nothing more then 6 1/4 cups water and 3 cups of sugar.  Brought to a boil. 

Once the syrup came to a boil, I put the cut up pears in there for five minutes. 

I had already gotten my jars and lids ready and my water bath was just waiting for the freshly packed jars.

When you put your fruit into the hot jars be sure to pack the fruit down really good.  Just when you think you have no more room for any more fruit, put one more in and push down.  If you don't pack the fruit in there, they will end up floating to the top and you will have the syrup in the bottom of the jar. 

Also, ladle in the hot syrup after the fruit is in and be sure to get out the air pockets.  It's sometimes hard to do that and I noticed I had some tiny bubbles still in mine but it will be fine.

Once you have the lids on, put your jars in a water bath and boil for 15 mins.   That's it!

I also got some pickling cucumbers.  My sister has been wanting me to make her some bread and butter pickles.  I figured today was as good as any to make them. 

These are also easy to do.

I had been searching on line and in my books for a good recipe.  But, I didn't have any luck.  Then I found a package of spices when I was over in the canning supplies area of Walmart.  Perfect!  My sister doesn't like chunks of onions or peppers and this would allow me to make these without those.

You just follow the directions on the package, dump in the spices, 6 cups of vinegar and 7 cups of sugar.  YES 7 cups!  Bring it all to a boil.

While you are waiting on that to boil, Wash and cut up the cucumbers.  Then pack them in hot jars and pour the hot mixture over them, being sure to cover them all.  Leave a little room, about 1/2 inch. 

Place them in the water bath for 10 minutes.

You can see from my picture that I didn't pack them enough and they are floating a little bit.  Oh well.  They will be fine.  They just don't look as pretty that way.

The last thing I picked up was three wonderful pineapples.  I love pineapple and have been wanting to can some for years.  Today was finally going to be that day.

You pretty much do pineapple the way you do the pears.  Only, you don't want to over cook the pineapple or it will be mushy.

So make the same syrup with 6 1/4 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar.  Bring it to a boil.  Then place your peeled pineapple in there.  I just left it in there for about 2 mins.  When I pulled it out, I ran it under cold water to stop it from cooking.

Then I cut it up into chucks.  You could do spears or even slice into rings if you wanted.  I wanted chunks. 

Pack the pineapple down really good and pour the syrup over the pineapple making sure it's all covered and leave 1/2 head space.

Put the jars in a water bath for 15 mins. 

I like being able to make small batches.  That way, you can try out different recipes and see if you even like it before you spend much money only to find out you hate it.

I made 3 jars of pears, 4 pickles and 6 pineapple. 

I made mine in pint size jars.  If you use quart jars you will need to cook yours in the water bath twice as long as I did.

I'm happy I tried three new items to can.  I found out they were very easy to do and as long as the taste good (which I'm sure they will) I'll can more fruit as soon as the stores are full of all the wonderful summer fruits.

Now I just have to get my nerve up to can using my pressure canner.  I'm a bit scared.  But, I know once I do it I will be happy.  So soon.  Soon, I will be canning all the good soups, sauces and veggies that can be done with a pressure canner.

What's your favorite thing to can? 

Monday, April 9, 2012


Slowly Spring is starting to show up around here.  The flowers are all ready to burst open with their full colors and smells in our garden.

A few have already showed up and I thought I would share them with you.

Our white roses are opening up and are full of buds.  They are going to put on quite a show in a short while.

We have a lot of different Hydrangeas in both the front and back gardens.  They actually have hundreds of buds growing on them but, so far, this is the only pink one that started to open up. 

I love when these all are full of the flowers and we can cut some to come inside and still have big pops of colors in the garden.

The Azaleas are about ready to go to sleep for awhile.  They provide us with some color in the cooler months.  I think the deep pink flowers are lovely.

My pink rose bush has come alive for the season.  This was my first rose bush I ever got and I love it.  The roses are so different.  So pretty.

Most of our flowers are pink or white.  But these daisy flowers are a nice blend of both.  Sometimes they even look like they are violet.

I know some people don't care for Geraniums but I love them.  They remind me of the olden days.

 Did you know some have wonderful smells.  Even chocolate smells.  Some smell like citrus.

The Victorian women used to love the smelling geraniums because as they walked by them, their long dresses would brush up against them and release the smell. 

I used to have some smelling geraniums but I don't any more.  I think I'm going to pick up some the next time I'm at Rogers Gardens.

This little white Hydrangea is peeking up from way down below.  Even though its a white Hydrangea, most of the flowers have a touch of a light lime green color to them. 

I planted some tomatoes in pots this year.  I've not done this before so I don't know how they will turn out.  But, they are starting to have lots of little yellow flowers, which means tomatoes should be growing soon.

Here are some more tomato plants and they have flowers too.  I think I should get a lot of tomatoes this year. 

Well, that's about all that is blooming so far in my gardens.  How about yours?  Are they in full bloom yet?