Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saving Summer

Meet my current best friend...

My Canner!

We're spending a lot of time together.  You always know when my friend is here because when we are visiting together I always put the flag up!

Flag's up!

We share some books...

My trusty friend

My favorite!

And we seem to work well together.  At least we create some tasty things!

This last week I was busy processing tomatoes, peppers, and tomato sauce.  When I can tomatoes I am usually left with a pot of juice from those tomatoes.  There are usually a handful of tomatoes too...whatever wouldn't fill a quart jar.  What a treasure!  I put it on to boil and let it cook down by half.

Cooked down

Then I let it cool and use a measuring cup to ladle it into my wonderful food mill!  I LOVE this machine!

Food Mill

Tomatoes go in the top with skins and seeds, turn the handle and the wonderful tomato sauce comes out the bottom while the yucky stuff goes off to the side for the chickens.  Josiah came up with this set up using a workbench from his shop and a piece of wood.  Tools all Moms needs!

Time to can the tomato sauce!  Back in the pot to get hot...
Tomato sauce

While it's heating up I call on a few other friends..

Canning tools!

A little of each in every pint jar and then the sauce goes in...

Filling jars

Top with rings and seals and into the canner.  When done they go on a towel to cool...

Really hot!

Notice the white discoloration on the jars...

Why are the white?

This is because I forgot to put a dollop of vinegar in the canner.  Once the jars are cool, I remove the rings, wash the jars and rings and then put them in the pantry.  The white comes off during the washing process but I like to use the vinegar.  My oldest son saw these and thought they had come from the freezer!  I caught him just in time...he almost touched them and would have been burned!

When I finished with the tomatoes...I began on these!

Just a beginning!

I had several bowls full of these lovely jalapenos.  My boys and I like to eat spicy food so we use quite a few of these each month.  It didn't take long to turn all of those bowls into several bowls full of this...

Ready to can!

Pack the jars, make a brine, pour over the peppers and pop them into my canner...

Before you know it you have added to your winter stores.


Why are some red? Because a red jalapeno is truly a ripe jalapeno - when they are green they are actually being picked early.  The flavor of a red jalapeno is completely different that the taste of a green jalapeno - and the red ones are a lot more spicy.  I like them better but they are a bit too hot for some of my boys. So..I can them green but throw in a few red ones for me!

You might notice the whole jalapenos on the left.  Those are for a special nephew of mine who loves them whole but can't find them that way in the store.  I'm so glad that we don't need them whole - takes twice the time to pack those little peppers in tight....I wouldn't do that for anyone else!

Now that I have the messes all cleaned up, it is time to do it again!

I'm so thankful to my Father for this bounty.  As the jars in my pantry continue to grow, I know that this winter we will still be enjoying the fruits of our labors. Truly if we are willing to work, He is faithful to provide.  I am also thankful for the seasons and the change of pace.  If I had to can year round, I think I'd fall in a faint.  It is a busy season right now, and one that I praise Him for...but I must admit I am looking forward to packing my friend up for the year and lowering the flag!

So....what parts of summer are you saving?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Soapmaking Made Simple

Next Saturday, August 29th, why don't you come make soap with me?  Look what YOU can do!

I'll be teaching my soapmaking course here on the farm.  This is the same course I teach for our local community college.  Class starts at 1:00 in the afternoon - zip me an email or give me a call for the details.

This course covers all aspects of soapmaking.  You can learn the tips, tricks and techniques that it took me years to acquire. We'll talk a little bit about the history of soapmaking and then we will jump right into it! Our goal is to make two batches of soap.  One a simple batch..perhaps Spanish Castille or Double Mint and then something a bit more difficult using herbs or perhaps layering our colors!

We will learn about the equipment you must have and what you should NEVER use!  We will go over the basic rules in soapmaking and how this process works.  Then we'll delve into the fun stuff!  Essential oils and how to blend them, using clays...which ones and why, coloring your soap naturally with things you have in your kitchen, how to try new ideas cost effectively, Sap values and why you need them...and what the short cuts are, soap molds and how to line them and where you can find them in your home, and lots more including a list of resources!

You will go home with my book "Soapmaking Made Simple" a complete step by step guide that is also filled with recipes so you can get busy right away, a bar of soap to get you through till your first batch is ready, and if Josiah has the time, you might even be able to buy a family sized soap mold from him!

Of course there will be some delicious herbal things to eat and drink and if the tomatoes keep coming I can pretty much guarantee some salsa and chips!

You will work hard while I direct because I want you to be able to go home and make soap for YOUR family. Soapmaking is hard to learn from a book - there are just some things you HAVE to what trace looks like!   We will be moving fast (except for that snacking part!) because we have a short amount of time to make two batches of soap but we will have a lot of fun and you will go home a "soaper"!

Hope to see you here!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Classes...past and future!

I had SO much fun at my last class.  I got to know a sweet lady much better (Hi Elaine!) and felt like I made a new friend (Hi Christy!).  The class was smaller than usual but I think I enjoyed it more that way.  Perhaps I'll do some more small classes.  We studied all about how to make herbal medicine and then we studied 10 herbs to use ...and we used most of them that day!


These ladies worked hard and laughed a lot.  I think we all had a lot of fun.  They went home with my book, Calendula Salve, a yummy cough syrup and a tincture custom made for their own particular needs.


I hope they also went home with lots of great memories.

Having fun!

Of course, when women work hard they get hungry....right?  About half way through the class we needed to take a little break for refreshment.


I served some herbal cheese, garlic and chives I think it was, along with crackers and fresh bread.  I also made a huge bowl of this...


and served it with chips.  We washed all of this down with the iced Chamomile tea and Lavender Lemonade that these ladies made in class.

One of the last things we learned to do was to make our own Colloidal Silver....for pennies!  One of the ladies in class, Faith, caught this amazing picture (along with a few others on this page!).  Thanks Faith!

Cooking silver!

You can see the silver particles flowing into the distilled water....awesome!

Thanks ladies for making this class SO much fun!

My next class will be Soap Making.  I'll be teaching this class on August 29th here on the farm.  Seating is always limited so if you think you might be interested just zip me an email.  I'll give the details soon!

Now, it's time to get some rest since I'll be spending tomorrow with my canner....tomatoes, jalapenos, tomato sauce and more!  Fall is looking better and better...perhaps I'll get a nap then :)


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Bounty

I'm so thankful for the bounty that our Father has given us. The tomatoes have been coming into the house in bushel baskets and milk crates!


I've been busy canning as fast as the boys can bring it is what they brought me last night...this might take awhile tomorrow!


There are tomatoes (Roma and fresh eating), tomatillos, sweet bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, hot banana peppers,  Tabasco peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers,  habanero peppers, sweet roasting peppers, strawberry popcorn,  3 kinds of cherry tomatoes (the purple are to die for!) and we are still digging...

Yukon Gold!

This week the boys dug the last of their Red Nolands and Yukon Golds.....they are still working on the Kennebecs. The potatoes have been so delicious.  We are trying all kinds of potato side dishes and main dishes.

Josiah's happy hens have been giving us at least 12 of these every day!


And when I am not canning tomatoes, dehydrating tomatoes, or eating tomato sandwiches, I seem to be making gallons of this....


So simple to do..chop tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, jalapenos, and cilantro.  Add minced garlic and a pinch of salt.....I could almost eat it like soup!  I like to use a variety of tomato colors for my salsa - I think it improves both the taste and the beauty.

Many people have had trouble around here with tomatoes this year....we've had SO much rain. But, we have been blessed and are grateful.

Tomorrow I'll share a bit about my last class and another one coming up....and then I can't wait to tell ya'll about the "great hay baling mis-adventure" and another huge adventure the boys and I had thanks to some good friends...just waiting on pictures for that one!


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