Friday, June 5, 2009

Why So Busy?

Well, the garden is definitely in full swing. Here are some of our goodies!

Straight neck and crookneck yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, and cucumbers all in their "bath" waiting to be prepared for the freezer. Yes, I cannot believe that I'm voluntarily putting a picture of our laundry room (usually a sorely neglected room) on the internet.

Peppers: banana, jalapeño, and a green bell. My six year old went out the next day and picked about 3 dozen bells. He did such a great job that I don't think his daddy could have done better! He had a great teacher (his daddy).

What did we do with all those peppers? Well, I sliced up the jalapeños and canned them. Here they are soaking in pickling lime. I'll post the recipe at the bottom.

I sliced up the zucchini into zucchini fries and froze them out on a jelly roll pan and packed them into a gallon freezer bag.

Here I have the squash ready for the freezer and the bells and cukes next in line.

We also have a few tomatoes. We're having problems with something getting them. Something with big teeth. Rabbits? Field rats? Also having a little trouble with end rot. *sigh*

I work in a very limited kitchen space, so the Lord gave me this idea. Why not, instead of laying out the recipe on the countertop and using up precious space, just hang the recipes I'm using on the fridge? It worked perfectly...except I kept forgetting where I put it!

Here's everything set out for homemade granola bars. They are soooo good. The store-bought ones are okay, but they are so expensive. I made 16 of them for about $5! Not to mention they are so much better for you: completely free of words you have to sound out to say!

The finished product right out of the oven. Recipe to follow

The children are all fighting colds. Of course, Ethan is taking the worst of it. Natural medicine is still working wonders for his asthma. He's only sounding wheezy from time to time, but acts like he feels great. On the kitchen front, I'm not posting a picture of my bread since that's not really out of the ordinary for me to make, but I did manage to work in making a loaf of bread this week too. My plans for today include cutting up a whole pork loin. A whole pork loin?! "Wait," you say, "that is expensive meat and you never buy pricey meat!" Typically, yes, it is pricey. But this loin was $1.88/lb (a pretty good deal where I live). Center cut pork chops at a local grocery store are priced at $4.89/lb. The loin is 20 inches long and weighs in at almost 10 pounds. If I cut them about 1/2 inch I'll get 40 very nice chops out of it! That comes to about .44 cents a chop! We'll be able to eat about 10 meals off of this one cut of meat. That sounds good to me.

~~Here are the recipes I promised~~

Granola Bars (recipe by Alton Brown and taken from

  • 8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, about 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, about 1/2 cup
  • 3 ounces sliced almonds, about 1 cup (Being a good southern girl, I used pecans from my mother-in-law's trees, chopped, not sliced)
  • 1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, about 1/2 cup
  • 6 ounces honey, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, about 1/4 cup packed
  • 1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries (I used what I had on hand: pineapple, cranberries, apricots and raisins.)

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Personal note: I accidentally left out the salt and it still tasted great. I'll leave it out when I make it and make the sodium content lower. I also didn't toast the sunflower seeds in the oven because the ones I bought were little pack from the convenience store that come pre-roasted.

Pickled Jalapeño Rings (recipe by jalapeñ

  • 3 pounds jalapeño peppers
  • 1½ cups pickling lime
  • 1½ gallons water
  • 7½ cups cider vinegar (5%)(I used white vinegar; I didn't have enough cider vinegar)
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 2½ tablespoons canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons celery seed
  • 6 tablespoons mustard seed

Yield: About 6 pint jars.

Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

1. Wash peppers well and slice into ¼" thick slices (a mandoline slicer works well). Discard stem end. Mix 1½ cups pickling lime with 1½ gallons water in a stainless steel, glass or food grade plastic container. Avoid inhaling lime dust while mixing the lime-water solution. Soak pepper slices in the lime water, in refrigerator, for 18 hours, stirring occasionally (12 to 24 hours may be used).

2. Drain lime solution from soaked pepper rings. Rinse peppers gently but thoroughly with water. Cover pepper rings with fresh cold water and soak, in refrigerator, 1 hour. Drain water from peppers.

3. Repeat the rinsing, soaking and draining steps two more times. Drain thoroughly at the end.

4. Wash and rinse pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturer's directions

5. Place 1 tablespoon mustard seed and 1½ teaspoons celery seed in the bottom of each clean, hot pint jar. Pack drained pepper rings into the jars, leaving ½-inch headspace.

6. Bring cider vinegar, 1¾ cups water and canning salt to a boil over high heat. Ladle boiling hot brine solution over pepper rings in jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Make sure pepper rings are covered with brine.

7. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened, clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.

8. Process in a boiling water canner according to the recommendations in Table 1. Let cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

Cut and wrapped granola bars and peppers in the can. Like my salt cellar? It's an official Alton Brown Sodium Chloride Containment Unit...a Christmas gift from my husband! Huzzah for edible rocks! Told you I was a big fan-girl!

And just for fun, here's yet another shot of my kiddies.

1 edifying expressions:

Tammy said...

You have been one busy gal! Lots of goodies stashed already. :o)

...Those pickled jalapeños look yumma!