Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reds Game

Pictures of my husband and I at a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. I love my husband, what a couple of cute pictures!

Fine art

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DIY Captain America Shield

My son loves anything super hero these days.

My husband heard one of his family members talking about how they made a Captain America shield out of a satellite dish, and since he comes across abandoned ones from time to time with his business he decided to keep the next one he found and try to make a shield for our son. Well, a week ago he found one and here are some pictures of what we came up with.

For all you DIY'ers the stripes are about an inch and a half wide, the circle is a traced gallon ice cream lid, and the handle is from a patio door. Adam also snipped off a lip from the outside edge and hammered the sharp leftover edge over for safety. I included a picture of the star I used if you need it.

And sorry the pictures are a bit out of order. My iPad free blogger app is not very sophisticated.

Wednesday, August 22 2012

A few random pictures of our family. The app I use to post to blogger from my iPad does not allow me to intertwine text and images, so instead of labeling I will have to explain with a brief paragraph.

There are a couple pictures of Trinity and Lincoln dressed up in costumes. It is awesome that they love dressing up because then I get more use for the money I spend on Halloween outfits (although the one Trin is wearing was a gift). The pictures of the man wearing a transformers mask is my husband Adam. Now you know where our kids get their sense of humor. Ha! And then finally a couple individual pictures of each the kids. Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Borrowing irises

Today, we visited my grandma's house, and unfortunately my grandpa had to be taken to St. Vincent in Indianapolis for heart problems.  So far it seems that he is stable, but tomorrow will be telling when they are able to assess how much damage has been done to his heart.  Praying for the best and hoping they can help him get well.

While I waited to hear about my grandpa, I decided to dig up some old irises that my grandma had planted years ago in a now grown up area of their yard.  I am amazed that the plants were still persistently coming up in spite of large amounts of overgrowth, fallen branches, and several rows of young walnut trees creating a shrowd overhead.  Plants are so interesting.  The little beauties were popped up here and there, poking their broad leaves through a prison cell of weeds - determined to live in spite of their circumstances.  I felt bad for them, as silly as that sounds, and I dug up every single iris that I could find, promising them a new home full of sunshine and weed free.

Grandma was so kind to let me have her irises, and I know at one time they were lovely in her yard.  But she cannot get out and garden like she used to, and grandpa's hobby of planting trees has overtaken their property, so I was more than happy to take her up on the offer of transplanting whatever I could find.  I have been working on our yard a lot lately, trying to get some perrenials in the ground before the cold weather sets in and securing the plants I already have established.

Last week I worked very hard on a raised flower bed and a small garden under my bird feeders in particular.  I bought a large bag (3 cubic feet) of peat moss for ten bucks at lowe's which I thought was a bargain since a bag of miracle grow at 2 cubic feet is around fifteen dollars.  I also bought several bags of regular peet which is much denser and dark to mix in with the peet moss.  I found five bags of starter soil by the peet for like 90 cents a bag on clearance, so you know I picked that up as well!  Always check that clearance aisle.

So, I will be posting about the raised flower bed next because I am so proud of how it turned out.  It was a mess before, and there is nothing like getting a project done to make you feel better about your home.  And it certainly gets you motivated to get other things accomplished!

I have still been canning and processing like a mad woman, but I admit I am about burned out.  I got another bag of tomatoes and peppers from my uncle's garden today, and usually they are not so bad to can into sauce or salsa, but I am about at the end of my rope when it comes to putting the bosom over the burner.  One item in particular that has done me in are apples.  They have got to be my least favorite thing to cut and puree, and all of my family and neighbors have them aplenty.  Once they find out you are canning apples they cannot wait to pawn some of theirs off on you as well.  Apples always have worms and bruises to cut out, not to mention the fickle cores.  And then the peels, THE PEELS are murder to get off.  And I hate to throw away apple peel because it is very healthy to eat.  But I guess I will do what I am able and if a few fruits and vegetables end up in my compost pile no one will be ever the wiser will they?

Speaking of health, my husband Adam is back for another round at the doctors.  This week was a CT scan of his throat, a visit with an allergist, and in a couple of days off to a natural healer.  We are still struggling for answers, but taking it one day at a time because what else can you do?  Every night I pray he will come out of this sickness and get better.

And as for my book, I am about to send it off to a couple friends for their opinions/edits.  I cannot wait to share more with you, including the entire manuscript, and I hope you enjoyed the little tidbit I shared a few posts back.  Writing is a joy, an escape, and gives you freedom when you feel locked into complacency.  Thank you for being patient, but I promise it will be well worth the wait.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Freezer corn

Freezer corn day! Every summer my mom, sister Nicole and I take a day and process 4 bushels (5 dozen ears are in a bushel) of sweet corn from a local farmer's market and they usually throw in a few extra for good measure which is super nice. Then I throw in any other ears I have gotten from family members who have shared their bounty.

To prepare the corn for the freezer we shuck the ears pulling all the silks we can off and then rinse them. Then the corn is boiled several minutes until the color turns deep yellow. We cool the corn under cold sink water and then using a sharp knife cut the corn from the ear, careful to get all the pulp without digging into the cob. Then, using freezer baggies we use a 1cup measuring cup and scoop four cups of corn in each bag. Press all the air out and it will keep at least a year in the deep freeze.

Usually, I take at least half the corn we process because I have extra freezer space and we are sweet corn lovers. Then my mom and sister split the rest. Here are a few pictures from our quest for freezer stock:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Susie homemaker? Not exactly lol!

So, as the dishwasher happily hums in the background I am happily propping my feet up after a long day of - MORE CANNING lol. I did not exactly plan on canning and preparing food all day, but that is how it worked out.

Altogether, I canned 7 quarts and 3 pints of salsa, canned 2 quarts of chili tomato sauce, froze 4 quarts of tomato juice (that I drained from my salsa tomatoes), froze 8 quarts of green beans after blanching (blanching just means I boiled them three minutes and then cooled with water) (good thing I already had the beans snapped that part takes forever), and I froze 3 quarts of chili (cooked with macaroni, beef, and beans) because a third quart of chili sauce I had made earlier emptied into my hot water bath I was using to process the jars. Oops! I boiled off the excess water which took forever, but I saved the leftover tomato juice and used it to make some chili freezer meals.

Customer service

Does anyone believe in customer service anymore? Good grief, after making two phone calls today, and getting very rude people, it makes me wonder if I should send a scathing letter documenting my aggravation. Adam says I should not worry about it, but I want change darn it!

I have been working on my book like mad this week. Maybe a couple more weeks of work and then I can look into my publishing options.

Here is a picture of my daughter Trinity. No nap=passing out on the kitchen floor lol. What a day, I feel like doing that too!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pumpkin butter

This recipe for pumpkin butter is simply delicious.  I fell in love with the first taste, and you will too.  I would suggest adding spices and sugar to suit your own tastes, but here is what I used if you need some guidance:

Fresh pumpkin puree (I used two pumpkins minus 3 cups for my pumpkin bread I used in my previous post's recipe.  I would approximate around 4 cups was used for this butter).

maple syrup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
ground cloves
a couple spoons of regular butter or salt to offset sweet taste

Blend all ingredients into a pot on the stove, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Drop into shallow jelly jars and keep refridgerated until you are able to enjoy!  Don't worry about spoiling - as long as it is in the fridge it will keep for quite awhile.

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin bread

2 cups flour (I substitute some wheat flour and it still tastes great)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
3 large eggs
3 cups fresh pumpkin pulp puree

A healthy dash of the following (don't be stingy!):
baking soda
baking powder
ground cloves

Mix your ingredients together until smooth.  I love using my stone mini-loaf pan for the batter.  This recipe I believe made about 6 mini-loaves.  I am sure it would also bake up nice as a cake or in a normal loaf pan.  Bake at 325 degrees until the top feels firm (25 minutes?), but be careful to not overbake.  Enjoy!

Processing pumpkins!

This year, I wanted to try something new that has interested me for a long time - canning pumpkin!  Now, from what I have read, you technically cannot safely can pumpkin pulp.  But, I did find a recipe for pumpkin butter (dropped in jelly jars and refridgerated) and also pumpkin bread (which you can freeze).  I am all about easy, and I was a little nervous about the work it would take to process a whole pumpkin, but it turned out to be a cinch. 

Note: This post will have instructions for processing the pumpkin, the next couple will have recipes for the bread and butter.

Processing the Pumpkin

First, you need a young pumpkin, between 3-5 pounds.  It needs to still have its yellow-orange color and should not have the mature dark orange appearance.

Bake the whole pumpkin in the oven at least 90 minutes at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  I think I left mine in around 2 hours just to be safe, but 90 minutes should be fine as long as the pumpkin has a soft feel and has a deflated appearance.  Take the pumpkin out of the oven and allow it to cool.  I left mine in the refridgerator overnight (still on the aluminum foil - it will leak so put a plate under it or something to catch the liquid). 

Pop off the stalk and cut the pumpkin in half over a sink or something to catch the liquid because there will be alot. 

For each pumpkin half: Cut the small round portion where the stalk was as it is hard and discard.  Use a spoon and scrape out the seeds and most of the stringy innards.  Use a sharp knife and skin the outside.  The skin is tough, so this takes some time!  The whole pumpkin, although soft, should still 'stick' together, making it easier to process the entire half of meat. 

Cube the cleaned pumpkin meat.  Put cubes into a food processor or the like.  Puree until there are no lumps you can see.  There may be one or two you miss, just as long as the consistency is smooth.  Now you are ready to add it to a pot for pumpkin butter or to batter for pumpkin bread!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Canning day

It is that time of year friends! The gardens have peaked, you have picked your fill, and now the refrigerator is bursting with food waiting to be processed.

As for me, I like to keep canning as simple as possible. Our family also freezes any food we are able to help cut down on the processing time jars take, and to utilize the deep freezer in our garage. But in each case food preparation should be your utmost concern for safety and preserved taste.

Today, I am tackling a batch of salsa. Now, I love cooking from scratch, but when I can salsa I love the seasoning packs of Mrs. Wages you buy from the store. It may seem like cheating, but it's all natural and pre-measured so if you are missing a spice in your cupboard you are covered. I still enjoy seasoning to taste and adding more ingredients than just tomatoes, and the packet helps take some of the stresses away of blank slate planning.

A few things to remember if you are going to undertake a batch of salsa:

-Drain the tomatoes and double the number the recipe calls for. This will make your salsa thick and chunky which also equals more yum.

-My favorite add-in flavor enhancers are paprika, salt, and a bit of olive oil. I season to taste and it gives your salsa a signature kick.

-Use a food processor to finely blend bell peppers, onions, banana peppers, etc. and add to your salsa. I am not a fan of onions, but when I make salsa I always add a few for taste and to give the batch more body. Plus, the more vegetables you add, the more health benefits you will glean.

-Use a food processor to cut your tomatoes and leave the skins on for your salsa. Tomato skin is loaded with vitamins, plus it's easier to just leave it. When you cut the tomatoes, don't purée, just pulse the on switch to keep your fruit chunky.