Category Archives: Step by Step

Blackberry Jelly

I love this time of year and I love blackberry hunting – gathering berries to make cobbler and jelly and wine.  So, be like me, and go out into the woods or take a drive through the country and pick a bunch of blackberries!

Wild blackberries – washed and picked over

Today I am making some jelly!

Fill your waterbath canner or very large pot with enough water to cover your jars by about 2 inches. Put in your clean, empty jars and bring to a boil. This takes quite a while and your canner will usually be boiling and your jars sterilized by the time you’re finished making the jelly. Put the rings and lids into a bowl or pot and pour boiling water over them.  Keep them hot till you need them – do not boil your lids, this will damage the seal.

Measure out about 4 cups of berries

Measure out about 4 cups berries

Put the berries in a large pot and crush – a potato masher works really well. Add 4.5 cups water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 20 minutes.

Cook the berries and water for 20 minutes. You’re making the juice that you will use to make the jelly.

Strain the juice into a large measuring cup. Press as much juice as possible from the pulp and seeds. You need 3.75 cups of juice. 4 cups of berries and 4.5 cups of water will give you exactly 3.75 cups of juice. I pour the juice through a fine sieve to make sure there are no seeds or pulp in the jelly.

Strain the pulp and press out as much juice as possible.

3.75 cups of juice

Measure out exactly 4.5 cups sugar

Have ready 1 box of pectin

Place juice and pectin in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat *stirring constantly*

Put the juice and pectin in a large pot

Add the sugar all at once, return to a boil and boil for 20 minutes, again *stirring constantly*

Adding 1/2 teaspoon of butter to the pot will virtually eliminate this foaming and will help prevent boiling over

Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Remove your jars quickly and carefully from the canner. Ladle in your jelly and fill jars to within 1/8 inch of the top. Work quickly so the jelly does not cool too much before you get it into the jars.

Ladle the jelly into the jars quickly, leaving 1/8 inch headspace

Wipe the rims and threads of your jars with a damp paper towel to ensure a good seal for your lid

Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel, even if they look clean, do not skip this step

Put on the lid

Put on the ring – do not tighten the rings too much or you will not get a proper seal

Put your filled jars into the canner and process for 20 minutes.

This recipe makes just over 6 half pints. The partial jar was not processed.

Make sure your canner is boiling when you put your jars in and maintain a constant, gentle rolling boil throughout the processing time

When the time is up, carefully remove your jars and put them in a draft free place on a towel. Do not touch, move, tilt or disturb them in any way for a full 24 hours.

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Filed under DIY, In the Kitchen, Step by Step, Using Wild Things

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The recipe I use for pineapple upside down cake came from my grandmother and she could not remember where she had gotten it. It is made in a 9 inch cast iron skillet and only has a few ingredients. I’ve made it for years and it’s always a favorite. Today, I share it with you!

To start, preheat your oven to 350*.

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a 9" cast iron skillet over medium heat

Add 1 packed cup of brown sugar

Once the brown sugar has melted, spread it out evenly in the pan and turn off the heat.

Sprinkle pineapple tidbits all over the brown sugar. You can use rings if you prefer, but I like my pineapple upside down cakes to be really pineappley.

In a small bowl combine 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Beat 3 egg yolks until they are thick and lemon colored. Using a stand mixer is easiest, but it's totally doable with a hand mixer.

With the mixer running add 1 packed cup brown sugar.

Add the flour mixture

Then add 5 Tablespoons of pineapple juice

Scrape your batter into another bowl, wash your bowl and your whisk in hot soapy water, rinse in hot water and then in cold water and dry thoroughly. If you are using a hand mixer, wash your beaters the same way and get a medium size bowl and make sure it is very clean.

Beat 3 egg whites till stiff

Keep beating

There we go

Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter

Fold gently, the egg whites keep your cake light

Be thorough and make sure all the egg white is completely incorporated

Pour the batter onto the brown sugar and pineapple in the pan

smooth out the batter, make sure it's even

Bake for 45 minutes

When it's done, take it out and let it cool for 30 minutes.

After cooling for 30 minutes, put your serving plate upside down on top of the pan

And flip it over. Just let it sit there like that for a minute or two. Slowly lift up your pan, and...

Voila!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!

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Filed under In the Kitchen, Step by Step

Granola

The chicks are all doing well and already seem bigger today than they were yesterday! My camera finally died, so there will be no more pictorial step-by-steps…I will still do some instructional things and try to be as descriptive as possible 🙂

Yesterday I made granola. Homemade cereal is one of the greatest things you can make for yourself. It is far healthier than anything you can buy in the store. You know exactly what’s in it and where it came from and you control the level of sweetness and all the ingredients. It’s also very simple to make and for pennies you can make far more than you could buy in the store.  If you grow and dry your own fruit, the cost is even less. Raise your own bees and it becomes cheaper still. I grew up  eating homemade granola as breakfast cereal, as a topping for yogurt or ice cream and even pressed into granola bars or incorporated into cookie dough or bread dough. Really, you are only limited by your imagination.

I do not have a formal recipe for my granola. I usually use what I have on hand, occasionally I will buy things specifically for it. In this particular batch I used rolled oats, flax meal, toasted wheat germ, slivered almonds, crushed dried apples (that I dehydrated), crushed dried bananas (that I dehydrated), chopped dates and golden raisins. When I make mine, I mix the oats, flax, wheat germ and almonds together so everything is incorporated fairly evenly. I used about 4-5 cups of oats and about a cup each of the wheat germ, flax meal and almonds. Then I pour honey over it and mix it up. I keep adding honey until everything is evenly coated. It usually will take less than you think. I would say for my batch I used a total of maybe 1 cup of honey (maybe). I also add a bit of oil to mine. You do not have to add oil, but I find it helps distribute the honey and keeps it from sticking to the pan…you only need a very little, say 1/4 cup, of any flavorless oil. I use canola. Notice at this point I have not added any fruit. You do not want your fruit to become overly hard during the baking process. So I cook my granola, let it cool, then add my fruit. I bake it in a shallow pan at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half, stirring every 15-20 mins so it all browns evenly. Once it’s a nice golden color, the nuts are nicely toasted and it’s mostly dry throughout, remove it from the oven and let it cool…I pour mine into a bowl and will toss it every few minutes. If you don’t toss it or stir it up, steam will build up and make it soggy. Once it’s cool add the fruits and bag it up. I added about 2 handfuls of each of the different fruits and my batch filled a gallon size zip top bag to the very top.

You can really customize the granola to taste however you want…Make an Apple Cinnamon granola by adding a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon and only using apples…Or make a Maple Granola by using maple syrup instead of honey. Or use brown sugar instead of honey (mix it with the oil and pour over). Use dried blueberries or cranberries or strawberries. Pecans instead of almonds. Your choices are limitless 🙂

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Filed under DIY, In the Kitchen, Step by Step

Green Tomato Jam

When I was kid I remember eating something called Green Tomato Jam. I only remember having it once and it was at my Great Grandmother’s house in West Virginia. I was very young and I don’t remember much, but I remember that I loved it and have thought about it often every fall. This jam is a wonderful way to use up all your green tomatoes at the end of the growing season. Green tomatoes combined with lemons and sugar, this jam has a wonderful citrusy, tangy sweet flavor with a hint of tomato in the background. Today I’m going to show you, step by step, how to make this awesome jam.

To begin, you will need some basic canning equipment:

A Large Water-Bath Canner

A jar lifter-not required, but it does make things a lot easier (you can use tongs if you don't have a lifter, just be very careful)

A canning funnel - also not required, but again makes things a lot easier and less messy

Wash everything in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. This includes the jars, lids, rings, funnel, tongs, canner, everything. Once you have your equipment clean you need your ingredients. For this recipe, you will need:

8.5 Pounds Green Tomatoes

8 Whole Lemons

A large piece of fresh ginger (mine came out of my garden which is why it looks like that)

5 Pounds Sugar

Wash your lemons and tomatoes.  Now a word about the tomatoes. You want GREEN tomatoes, ideally with no hint of blush. Some blushed tomatoes are alright as long as there aren’t too many. Do not use tomatoes that have obviously started to ripen. Here are some examples of ideal tomatoes and not so ideal but usable tomatoes.

These are ideal green tomatoes. No sign of ripening at all and the fruit is very hard.

These tomatoes are usable but not ideal. They are mostly green but have a slight blush on them which means they have begun the ripening process. They are also less firm.

Here an ideal, perfectly green tomato is cut and a tomato with a slight blush is cut. You can see the green tomato is white all the way through and there is very little, if any, juice. The blushed tomato is turning red inside and there is quite a bit more juice.

Ok, back to the jam 🙂

Core your tomatoes  and rough chop into about 1 inch pieces. Cut the lemon in half lengthwise, then each half in half lengthwise. Slice the lemon quarters into 1/4 inch pieces (triangles). Peel and grate your ginger. Layer all this in a very large bowl with the sugar, beginning with fruit and ending with sugar.

To core tomatoes, cut around the stem and then pop the core out.

A cored tomato

Layer the fruit with the sugar

Once everything is in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel if you’re not into plastic. Put it in the fridge overnight.

Cover and put it in the fridge overnight

The next morning, take it out and dump it into a large stockpot. Normally, you shouldn’t cook tomatoes in anything made of aluminum because the acid in the tomatoes reacts badly to the metal causing bitterness. However, since these tomatoes are green the acid has not yet developed and if all you have is a big aluminum pot (like me), don’t worry it’s fine.

Heat over medium heat till it comes to a full boil, stirring occasionally. The sugar draws out a LOT of liquid so you don’t have to worry too much about scorching and you don’t have to stir constantly. Just keep an eye on it. It will take several hours of boiling before the proper consistency is achieved.

Put in your pot and heat over Medium High heat to a full boil

Keep boiling and stirring and you will eventually start to see the level in the pot drop as the liquid reduces. When the color starts to deepen, start heating your canner, heat your oven to 215 degrees (F) and boil some water to pour over your lids. When the oven has reached temperature, put your jars in to sterilize (thanks to Bev for showing me I could do this instead of boiling them). Put your lids and rings in a pan and pour boiling water over them and cover with a plate to keep them hot.

It will start to change color as it reduces

It took me 4 hours and 15 minutes to reach the “done” point. You want a deep, rich caramel color to the syrup. It will also start to thicken up a bit and the fruit will turn translucent. Once the color starts to deepen you need to stir more often and watch more closely.

This is the color you need to look for. You can see it's reduced about 50%. The syrup is nice and thick and the fruit is translucent.

Once you’ve reached that deep, dark caramel color, take the pot off the heat and over to your work space (counter, table, etc.) Take a jar out of the oven, put your funnel in and fill the jar to within 3/4 inch of the rim.

Fill your hot jar with the hot syrupy fruit mixture. Be very careful and avoid splashing the hot syrup, it will give you a nasty burn.

Wipe the rim with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel (even if you don’t think you got anything on it). Doing this ensures a good seal. Take a hot lid out of the pan and put it on and screw on a ring till just finger tight. Be careful not to over-tighten or your jars may not seal properly.

Make sure the water in your canner is boiling and carefully put your jars in the pot. I must note that it is VERY important that your jars not sit directly on the bottom of the pot. They can crack if they sit right on the bottom. I use a canning basket now, but I didn’t have one for years and used extra jar rings for my jars to sit on. Just put them in the canner before you start to heat it up.

Process for 15 minutes.

Make sure the water in your canner covers your jars by at least 1 inch. Put the lid on the pot and process in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Remove the canner from the heat and carefully remove the jars from the canner, one at a time, to a folded towel on a table or counter. If your kitchen is especially drafty or you run a ceiling fan in the kitchen, drape a light towel over the jars while they are cooling so they will cool at an even rate. Let the jars cool for 24 hours. Do not move, tilt, shake or open the jars during this time. This is very important.

This made just over 6 pints!

A note about filling the jars. If you find that you don’t have enough to completely fill a jar, you have 2 choices.

Partially filled jar

You can process it with the rest of the jars or you can not process at all. Either way, a partly filled jar (even a processed one) must be kept in the fridge. Too much head space in a jar prevents a good vacuum from forming, so even though the lid may “ping” there could still be air trapped in the jar. It’s safest to store jars like this in the fridge and eat them up quickly. I chose not to process this one.

There you have it! I’m glad I could share this old recipe and I hope someone out there will make it and let me know how they like it.

Till Next Time 😀

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Filed under DIY, Garden, In the Kitchen, Step by Step, Waste Not

Cleaning Day

Today was cleaning day in the goat house and this is step by step what I did. It’s really important when you clean out stalls that you get out all of the wet bedding. Not only does wet bedding smell bad, but it can cause a lot of problems with your animals. Especially your hoofed ones. Urine is acidic and during decomposition releases ammonia. This can cause anything from mild respiratory ailments to severe foot rot, depending on the amount of ammonia/urine in the bedding. Not to mention a build up of feces, urine, dropped hay and feed attracts all kinds of pests, from flies to disease carrying rodents. If you want to keep your animals healthy and potentially keep your vet bills down, keep their living space clean. I clean my goat stall about once a month.

Whenever I go out to clean the stall, I always look around and look for anything that could potentially hurt my goats. We made our goat house out of pallets and plywood, so I always look for splits in the plywood and I make sure all the joints are still tight.  I try to repair right away any problems I find.

The first step is to remove all the old bedding.

Here is the stall before cleaning

It's important to remove ALL the bedding, all the way to the dirt!

There will be loose bedding and compacted bedding. The compacted bedding can be so hard you think it's dirt, but it will sound "hollow" if you tap with your pitchfork. It's very important to dig down and get all of it out.

This is an example of compacted bedding. I have removed all the loose bedding that was on top. What's left is as hard as compacted dirt and looks dry.

This is all the bedding I dug up from that "dry" corner. You can see how wet it actually was underneath. This is what causes foot rot. So get it all out.

Here is that same corner that appeared dry. There are some dry places, but you can see where it was wet.

Here is the stall completely cleaned.

Once your stall is thoroughly clean, sprinkle lime all over the floor. You don't need a lot, just a light dusting over the entire space. Lime neutralizes the urine and will help cut any smell.

The next step is fresh bedding. I like pine shavings because they're relatively dustless and they're very soft and absorbent.

So there you have it! Step by step how I clean my stalls 🙂

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Filed under Animals, Cleaning, Goats, Step by Step