Archive for January, 2019

Lesson Learned

Posted January 30, 2019 By Ruth

Shoulda learned it a while back I guess.  But yah, thats life.

Basically all images have been removed from the blog.  All new images will go up with watermarks.  I found a plug in that would allow me to retrospectively add watermarks to images, but it proved to be more annoying than just deleting them.

Home Made Hot Sauce

Posted January 28, 2019 By Ruth

As my supply of home grown hot peppers has grown so has the things that I’ve made out of them.  Husband likes Franks Red Hot sauce, so I’ve played around with home made versions of it using the home grown peppers, usually whatever peppers I have, which makes for a fair bit of variation in flavor.  I’m not interested in playing around with the fermented sauces, but the home grown red ripe peppers make for some nice flavors anyway.

This past summer of course I grew Cayennes, so this year I did up actual Cayenne based hot sauce for him.

A note on making hot sauces.  There are alot of recipes out there that make me cringe.  And alot of home hot sauce makers who have no understanding of what makes things safely shelf stable.  The good news for those folks is that botulism is rare.  The bad news for those folks is that if they get unlucky some day they’re going to end up either dead or crippled for life.  Before you decide to follow some random hot sauce recipe you found online please make sure you understand how acidity protects you from botulism, and how to tell if your sauce is acidic enough.  I can do that whole rant if need be, and if you all reading this actually want it, but I won’t in this post.

This recipe is a modification of the hot pepper jelly recipe that I use and that I know is plenty acidic and thus safe to play with.

If you have pets, or if any of the humans in the house aren’t a fan of hot things, turn on the vent fan before you start doing anything.  Also, I highly recommend gloves for handling the peppers, and even if you wear gloves do yourself a favor and wash your hands with LOTS of Dawn dish soap BEFORE using the bathroom or touching your face.

1 pound of red ripe Cayenne peppers

2 cups of white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

rough chop the peppers and add to sauce pan with the vinegar.  Heat up, and then puree with the stick blender.  Puree to your choice of texture, commercial sauces are often mashed through a fine strainer after pureeing to remove the seeds and larger bits, I don’t bother, but if you prefer a smoother sauce you’ll want to do this.  Add salt and garlic powder.  Simmer down to the consistency you want.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Pour into hot 1/2 pint jars and water bath for 10 minutes.  This made up 3 jars worth of sauce.  It also smells absolutely wonderful, even to me who doesn’t care for hot things.

I’ll note, if you don’t want to water bath it, and just want something for the fridge or freezer, this’ll keep for extended periods of time in the fridge just fine.

Mandarin Orange Jam

Posted January 27, 2019 By Ruth

I’ve been on a citrus kick lately.  But Husband isn’t a fan.  And I struggle to finish a package of oranges or the like before they start to go off.  The solution of course is to buy them individually, but that costs more.  Not to mention that my favorite citrus are seasonal.

In the meantime, I belong to a couple different canning/preserving groups on Facebook, and people were talking about doing marmalades, and mixed fruit jams and jellies.  So I had a thought.  Poked around at a couple orange jelly recipes, but wasn’t entirely enthused with what I was seeing.  So, armed with the knowledge that oranges are nicely acidic and so I can basically do whatever I want so long as I don’t add anything low acid, I went to the store for oranges.

8 large mandarin oranges

1 cup of commercial orange juice.

1 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

a splash of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of Ball’s low/no sugar pectin

Sliced the ends off of the oranges, deep enough that I saw flesh and not white skin.  Peeled them, and then used a sharp knife to slice off the white pith/skin.  Broke them open, sliced off the interior pith (that white pith can be bitter, you really want as much of it as physically possible removed).  Cut them into chunks, removed any particularly loose skin pieces but wasn’t OCD about it.  Used a potato masher to break up the chunks a bit.  Eyeballed the mass in the sauce pan, and added 1 cup of juice.  Next time I’ll just buy a couple more oranges instead, but it works for now.

Added the rest of the ingredients.  Brought to a strong boil for 1 minute per pectin instructions.  Jarred up (this made exactly six 1/2 pint jars), and water bath processed for 10 minutes.

I licked my stirring spoon while the mixture was heating and the vanilla came through nicely, but I can’t taste it at all in the finished jam.  In retrospect I should have added it at the end of the boil instead of before, and I might add a bit more too next time.  Also, store bought juice has always had a slightly odd undertaste to it, and that come through in the jam.  But otherwise I’m delighted with how this turned out.  Its a nice loose set jam, not overly sweet, and I totally ate the first jar with a spoon the next morning.

I’ll be buying a bunch more mandarin oranges this week so I can do a couple more batches!

Breakfast food

Posted January 12, 2019 By Ruth

Several years ago, before I got married (possibly even before we started dating?), I picked up a pair of these small cast iron pans.  They’re tiny, but perfect for single servings of a variety of things.

More recently I’ve used them for baking of smaller free form loaves of bread on occasion.  But otherwise they haven’t gotten much use since my husband joined the household.

Not to long ago, wanting something hearty for breakfast but not wanting to actually put alot of effort into it, I had an idea.

Two eggs scrambled up in a bowl, with a dash of onion powder, a sprinkle of pepper, and a hearty dash of garlic powder.  Add a pinch of grated asiago cheese, a dash of grated parmesan cheese, and a healthy handful of grated cheddar.  If I have them in the house I’ll frequently fine chop a small red potato into the mix too.

Get one of the little cast iron pans hot, slather with a thick slab of butter (even in a well seasoned pan the eggs will tend to stick a bit once you add this much cheese to the mix, use more butter), turn the burner down to just above low.  Pour in the egg mixture, it’ll do a good job at filling the little pan.  Let cook till the edges are solid.  Carefully flip, the liquid center will tend to pour out into the pan, thats fine.  Continue to cook till the bottom side is done to your taste (I tend to prefer a bit of browning, but some folks prefer their eggs less done, go with what works for you).  Place on a slice of homemade bread toast (though I have to say, it also goes REALLY well on commercially purchased Texas Toast, you may want to go light on the added seasonings if you’re going this route) with more grated cheddar.

It’s a very filling meal in a fairly short period of time.  I call it my “omlet thing”, to the amusement of my husband.  I forgot, again, to get a photo, so you’re going to have to do with my description.

Garden planning

Posted January 11, 2019 By Ruth

Last year, knowing I had surgery coming, I bought most of my seeds way in advance, and I got a fair bit of the location planning done early.  This year I’m way behind, having only just ordered seeds.

There was one breed of hot peppers I’d wanted to try last year, but none of my regular sources carried them.  I was able to find them elsewhere, but was reluctant to pay yet another shipping charge, plus I realized I was already going to have a full garden.  This year I have ordered a few different varieties of Capsicum pubescens peppers to try.  Sometimes called Manzano or Rocoto peppers, they have black seeds, tend to be thicker walled, and are more cold tolerant than pretty much every other type of pepper.  I have five varieties arriving to try this year.

I’m also going to try more varieties of melon again this year.  There are several smaller, short season, varieties that keep catching my eye in the seed catalogs, so I’m going to try some new ones again this year.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to grow cucumbers this year or not, might come down to what I have for space.

Lots of tomatoes again though.

I’d been thinking on growing celery from the root of a store purchased bunch, but while scanning seed catalogs I discovered that there are pink/red celery varieties.  So now I’m going to grow celery from seeds, cause its pink!  (Have I mentioned seed catalogs are evil?!)

I also couldn’t resist the Mongolian Giant sunflower seeds.

In other news, I spent way to much on seeds this year…..

I also have a head start on a more permanent greenhouse.  My employer received several new fixtures in a 6’x6’x6′ wooden crate.  After several other employees asked what the plans were for the crate my employer decided to raffle it off (funds from the raffle went to the employee fun fund).  And I somehow won the thing.  I sealed it with deck sealer, since it isn’t made of pressure treated or other weather resistant wood.  Now I just have to cut out windows, buy clear corrugated roofing panels to cover it with, figure out how to move it to where in the yard I want it, cut a proper door (one whole side swings open, which is cool, but not great for heat retention), get it set up……probably not happening in time for this spring, but hopefully next year!