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Monday, August 30, 2010

Canning Gumbo

My friend Deb has been visiting with me for a week and she makes the best gumbo. After all she is from Mississippi and they do have that talent down there. I taught Deb how to butcher chickens, something she had never done. Now she can go home and butcher her chickens. Yesterday after butchering my old laying flock we canned the meat and made stock. We had about 2 gallon stock left from the canning and decided to make gumbo to use the stock. I wanted to make a bunch of gumbo to can for us here. So this is the recipe Deb taught me and we used it to make 14 quarts that we got canned.

Debs Gumbo

2 cups flour
2 cups oil (we used peanut oil)
4 lb okra
7 lb cubed chicken meat
2 lb beef polish sausage (sliced thin)
10 cups sliced onion
10 cups sliced bell pepper
10 cups chopped celery
2 gallon chicken stock
2 tablespoons or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons liquid shrimp and crab boil or to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oil in a large kettle and add the flour. Slowly brown to a rich brown color. Do not burn. This needs to be done on low heat.
This makes a rich roux for the gumbo. It sure helps to have 2 people doing this so says Ms Deb. While 1 makes the roux the other can saute the veggies and brown the meats. Mix the veggies and the meats in a large container.
When all this is done its time to add the roux to the chicken stock and make the gravy. Add roux to 2 gallons of chicken stock in a large stock pot, bring to boil, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and shrimp boil. Let simmer for a few minutes to thicken some, whisking constantly. Remove from heat.

Prepare jars and put the veggie meat mixture in the jars up to the shoulder of the jar. This makes 14 quarts. Divide the roux among the 14 jars. Put on lids and put in pressure canner and process quarts for 90 minutes at 10 lb pressure.
Let pressure go down and remove to rack to finish cooling and seal. You might notice the contents look like they have separated, this is fine.

This is some good gumbo. To serve, cook about 1/2 cup of rice and add the cooked rice to one quart of gumbo or you can add the rice straight to the gumbo as it heats up.

You can also add shrimp at re-heating if so desired. This is a good hearty meal in one kettle and quick if you have your own home canned gumbo. Enjoy! Compliments of my good friend Deb.
After we fed the guys some gumbo for supper we went and picked some wild plums to make jelly. We are planning on making that in the morning and then we can see whats next. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Canning pickles, pickin tomatoes

Yesterday we started a batch of sweet lime pickles and finished them today. I had cukes that I did not need as I have made more pickles than we can eat in 2 years so we made these for Deb to take home with her. We have had a nice time visiting and just relaxing. This evening we went to the garden and picked tomatoes. I might have a half bushel that we are gonna make juice with tomorrow.
It is time for the wild plums to ripen and I hope we can get some this week to make jelly with. It is Rodgers all time favorite jelly. I like having bagels or English muffins with butter and jelly for breakfast. I think the garden season for us is kinda winding down as  far as vegetables go. We are now at the stage of starting on fall fruits and jelly making. The pears should be ready to pick in a couple weeks. Some of the apple trees here on the farm have apples ripening now so they should be picked and made into something. I don't need pie filling as I have many jars still left from a couple years ago.
While Deb is here and after we get all my laying flock butchered we are going to make some gumbo and can it. We had gumbo the night we arrived at Debs house in Mississippi and it was so good. She makes and cans her own Gumbo base then adds the meat and shrimp when she gets ready to serve it. Hopefully I can post the recipe for ya on here when we can it. I can tell you it was delicious.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

We made it home, back to canning

We finished our trek across the country on thru Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi then stayed over night in Mississippi. We spent the night at my friend Debs house.When we left there on Wednesday morning Deb took us to see Elvis birthplace and tour there before leaving there to head on to Kentucky.

We also had breakfast at a local diner where Elvis frequently ate when he was young. Kinda neat to step back in time. I do love visiting the old historical places in the country, most of them off the beaten path.
I have to say I am glad to be back home. We got home to some perfect weather. Temps in the 80's. Deb said when we got to her house that day it was the coolest day they had had all summer in Mississippi.We did have a wonderful trip this week. I got to spend time with the kids and got to pick up a friend in Mississippi and bring her home with me..I had talked to Deb for a couple  years online and we have talked many times on the phone and knew we had a lot in common. It was so nice to finally meet her in person. We got a lot planned for this week too. I am not a souvenir collector but all the way across the states I did purchase a coffee cup from each state. Kinda nice to drink coffee and remember the trip. It really felt good  to sleep in my own bed for a change too. We haven't done any major canning today other then Deb and I started some sweet lime pickles that we will finish tomorrow. Tomorrow we will also be picking tomatoes to make juice and can that. Hopefully we can go back and pick the wild plums that are ripe and make jelly. We shall see what tomorrow holds. Might just hang out an do nothing. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Road trip and closer to home

We are still traveling and sight seeing along the way. We left Albuquerque NM this morning headed on east. We stopped along the way to tour and go for a taste testing in a micro brewery.
This was a small mom and pop operation which I thought was really cool. The folks were really nice and we left with a case of beer.
I like this sign, would like to have one like this for my kitchen at home. We left here and drove on to Texas. Just outside Amarillo TX there was a sign saying this is the largest cross in the northern hemisphere.
This thing is huge, You can see in the pic how it towers a building nearby. We drove across the Texas panhandle so the distance was not too far as far as mileage goes. Pretty country to drive thru.
We hit Oklahoma this evening and I knew I had an aunt that lived in Elk City OK that I had not seen in about 4 years so we decided to give her a call. She came out to to the interstate to meet us and chat for a few minutes. Was so nice to see Aunt Wilma and Uncle Alvin. They both look great and are doing really well.
We left Elk City and headed on east toward Oklahoma city where we are stopped for the night. We will leave here in the morning and head on east and hopefully make it to Mississippi by tomorrow night. So till then, blessings from the McGuire homestead on the road.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Traveling, back tracking, goin forward

We are still on vacation and got started this morning from Flagstaff headed to the Grand canyon. Before we got there we came across a place called Bearazona. It was a wild life preserve that you could drive thru and view the animals up close. It was a neat lil drive to see some of the animals up close in their own habitat.
                                                                        American Burro
                                                                        White Bison
                                                          Black bears having breakfast

                                                       Baby black bears in the trees

There were other small animals in the area for viewing but some were sleeping in there respective hide outs. We left here and moved on toward the grand Canyon. We had to do some back tracking from where we stayed. The Grand Canyon can not be truly appreciated in pictures, you really should see it in person. It is really breath taking in its own right.
We actually were on the south rim of the canyon. I am really glad we were not the ones on the north rim as they had a really big thunder storm roll in while we were there. You could see the rain in the distance and the dark clouds hanging over the area.
We drove back down to get back on I 40 and continue across the country. The scenery is beautiful and you can truly see for miles. You could watch your dog run away for days.
We stopped along the route to look at what is supposed to be the largest petrified tree. It was really neat to look at. Hard to imagine the natural creation of such a thing.
 These were sections on display and some of the colors were beautiful and almost glass like. We have ended our day and are now in Albuquerque NM. We are spending the night here and then on east tomorrow. More pictures next time. Till then, blessings from the McGuire homestead on the road.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vacation and road trip

I told you I would share pictures from my road trip with ya so here ya go. We left Lexington on Friday evening around 5 pm for a hope to Memphis Tn. Then on the Las Vegas arriving around 9:30 pm local time.

A pic from 109 floors up on the open observation deck at the Stratosphere Hotel in Vegas. Then we went down to the bar.

Had a drink, my fav a pina colada, don't remember what the kids had.Then down to the casino. I actually put a dollar in the slots and won $60. OK so I am a quitter, I won and I quit a winner.
Then we had dinner at the Italian restaurant in the hotel. It was nice and not really expensive. Then back to the room for a good nights sleep so we could be up early an travel the next morning.
The morning we decided to see the Mojave National Preserve in southern California beings we were that close.

Needless to say we left our mark there. This was was from a marker of some sort that had earlier been taken down. It was covered with graffiti already.
We drove thru the Mojave National Preserve an came to a lil town and stopped to see what was there.

This lil town had in times past been an old railroad stop with a little general store. The store was the usual gift shop type thing but was nice to read some of the signs around marking the area.
Traveling on we were heading south toward I 40 and came to another cool place after we got into Arizona. We found a beach.

This was a nice little place to hang out but it was soo unbearable hot we moved on. We came across a sign that directed us to the infamous Route 66. We took the exit an ended up in a nice little place.
We stopped into the old general store and loafed around a bit and when we pulled out of the parking lot we saw a sign that said "Road Kill diner" and the had buffalo burgers. Well you know we had to have supper there. I had my buffalo burger and did enjoy it.

A cool lil place to eat. Left here and on down the road. We finally arrived in Flagstaff Arizona and stayed the night. Tomorrow we will see the Grand Canyon and trip will continue. As will the story. So for now blessings from the McGuire homestead on the road.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

My loafin day, ready to fly

This has been a good loafing day for me. It started out when I went to get my hair cut this morning. Connie, the lady that has cut my hair for nearly 30 years has been a long time friend. So I got to visit with her for a bit. Then we went together to visit our friend Gene that had the stroke in April and she cut his hair. So nice to have a traveling hair dresser. She is a fun person to be with as well. I was planning on going to get my nails done after the hair cut. So she and I went together. Got me all fixed up and had a late lunch at Pizza Hut. My hubby don't like their pizzas nor does hers but we both do. In the time we were together today we were talking about how people never have or take time to spend with friends. We always think we don't have time or the energy to go somewhere or visit, but it really energizes you to get away from your own life if just for a few hours. Gives you a different perspective on things. And it is always good to spend that time with people who lift you up mentally, not drain you. So Connie and I have decided that at least once a month we need to get together and just visit. We were both tired when we got home but just felt refreshed. It is good to do that once and again.
So back on the farm nothing changed while I was gone. Not that I expected it would. Rodger got the yard all trimmed this evening and it looks nice. The weather today was just awesome, mid 80's, for the first time in forever. I got my jars of meatloaf all washed and Rodger got those in the cellar for me. He wont allow me to carry them because he knows how I am for over loading my self.  Gosh my cellar is getting full. He is going to try to get the tomatoes picked tomorrow evening after work. And I ask him to get the big yellow cukes from the garden as well so we can save the seed as they are an open pollinated variety. I now also have some watermelon seed that I saved from a melon that Jason brought home from work the other day. There is an older gentleman that used to work for the same oil company and is retired now. He lives on the road where Jason has been working. This fellow saves ALL his own garden seed from year to year. And the watermelon he gave Jason was the bestest. Needless to say I ate all of it in 2 days. Yeah I know, muh kidneys love me. Hope to have some green beans to can when I get back home from my trip. I am counting on the Tobacco worm beans as my green beans this year. The Kentucky Wonder bush beans didn't do squat this year. But that is life on the homestead.
I hope to be blogging from Las Vegas tomorrow night. I am guessing my post will be quite late but will do my best to post some pics to share with you all. I know I always love to see pics that fellow bloggers and friends post online, it is kinda like seeing the country thru someone else eyes and never leave your home. This was so cool to me when Jason drove a truck long haul. He would send me pics of places he traveled thru and it is like being there with him. Far better than any geography class you had in high school. So am off to Sin City tomorrow night. WooHoo!!! Imagine a country girl in the big city. I am more looking forward to seeing my lil boy tho. Last time we got to see him was in July when he flew home for a few days. I miss muh lil boy. It will be nice to spend time with him and Amoy, she is such a sweet heart.
So till next time, blessing from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rain, nothing happening,vacation preps

We have had lots of rain today. Not just here but most of the state. In our area we have had a small stream flood warning. The flooding didn't effect us a lot but I am sure others have been. All it did for us is keep us out of the garden. I had planned on picking tomatoes this evening but sure didn't relish the idea of wading mud to do it. So maybe I can get them tomorrow and take care of em.
I had to be home all day for the repair man to come fix our security system. Last week when we had a storm the lightening must have hit close enough to us to fry the circuit board in the system. So with that replaced we are up and running now.
I talked to Rob a bit ago and he is excited about getting to come home for a bit. He has a job interview on Friday morning before he leaves Barrick mining. Then he is driving to Las Vegas to meet Amoy and I there on Friday night. I am excited to be invited on this trip. We fly out on Friday evening from Lexington to Memphis then on to Vegas. A stay in the Stratosphere Hotel will be a treat in itself. I will likely blog along the way and post pics of our trip. The plan is to drive and find things to see and do along the way. This is my vacation for the year I suppose.  When we get to Mississippi we are stopping to pick up a friend of mine and she is coming home with me for a week or so. We are gonna have a blast I just know it. I just hope the heat don't make us all miserable and cranky along the way. We will be traveling along the southern states on the way east so I am sure it will be hot. Oh fun fun!!
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Canning more meatloaf

I thawed about 8lb of ground beef yesterday to use to make meatloaf to can. As usual during the process I had what I thought was an ingenuous idea. I usually can meatloaf and the like in wide mouth pint jars. I was running low on those so instead I decided to use wide mouth quarts. I made the meat loaf, a 12 qt dish pan full and started putting it in jars. I filled the pints that I had and then started making round balls the size of a lemon to fill the quart jars and use the rest of the mixture. All total I had 9 pints and 5 quarts of meatloaf. After processing the quart jars of meat loaf don't look so nice. They do shrink some, but these shrunk and settled a good bit in the jar. So the jars look like they are about half to 2/3 full. They are fine as far as safe and tasty, they just look strange in the jars. But thas OK, I know it taste good and thas what matters to me.
I am tied up all day here in the house tomorrow waiting on the security system repair man to get here. Our security system lost its mind last week during the lightening storm we had. I knocked out the phone as well. The phone is fixed now and tomorrow we wait on the security guy. I think it may just be the battery that powers the keypads that got fried.
Hopefully I can get my hair cut on Thursday morning, it gets hot and I get cranky. A girl just has to get fixed up and look like a girl once in a while. After being barefoot in the garden all summer I can get pretty skanky. But that's a whole nother post.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Yard work, cannning jam

I finished up a few things outside today. But once again it was hot as blazes out there. Ya know, I should have lost a lot of weight by not but it has not happened so far. I think I sweated at least 10 lb off just what little time I was outside. I picked up the rest of my ground cherries that had fallen when I pulled up the plants yesterday.

I had already picked some before and had them in the fridge.
I got online and did a search and found a jam recipe that sounded really good. It was Ground cherry and orange jam. This is how its done.

4 to 5 cups of ground cherries, husked.
1/2 cup water.
1 orange, flesh finely chopped, an the zest grated
1 pk of sure jell
4 cups sugar.

Cook ground cherries till soft or you can use a stick blender to mash them up. Add the prepared orange  and sure jell to ground cherries. Simmer for about 3 minutes. Add sugar all at once and stir to dissolve. Boil hard till it test done for jelly and sheets from the spoon. Put into hot jars and seal. If you water bath your jam and jelly do so for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. This is really some tasty stuff. I know cause I got to lick the kettle. This recipe makes about 5 - 1/2 pint jars of jam. It has a taste reminiscent of orange marmalade and hint of pineapple. A really nice treat to make from a fruit that grows wild here in Kentucky. The plants look somewhat like a tomato or tomatillo and the fruit grows like tomatillos as well. They will grow in poor soil and ripen in late July to mid August. These little treasures are also loaded with beta-carotene or Vitamin A. So a jam that might just be good for the body on your morning toast.
I have been saving some seed from  a tomato plant that hitchhiked its way to the flower bed in front of the cellar. It is the heirloom variety called Abe Lincoln. A very hardy plant.
This particular one got broken over by some kittens playing in the limbs. It still has lots of maters and this is one that I have saved some seed from. I like them really well for juice because they don't have a core to speak of.
They will have 3 or 4 lil green core like things but they are so small ya hardly notice them in there. A very meaty tomato with small seed and seed pockets.
Now there is ya a whole post of useless information. Not much else happening here today with the heat.
Although Rodger did get the tractor put back together and running and did some bush hogging this evening. The tractor water pump had gone out and broke the fan belt. So that was replaced along with the alternator that had not worked in a long time. So its all fit as a fiddle now.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cleaning outside

With the summer rush of canning and all, the yard and my flower beds have went to hell. The flowers bloomed and should have been dead headed weeks ago. So I went out today and got started on that. And dang it was hot too. I think I saw a guy in red running around with a pitchfork when I was outside. I had bought a pair of hedge clippers last year to use for dead heading plants. So I hit the flower bed by the front side walk first thing and clipped all them off. Then the flower bed by the driveway and last the herb bed. I had to come in and cool off between clipping each bed. The heat was just plain miserable. I had piles of clipping laying all over the place and the sky clouded and the rain hit. It didn't rain too long but it did cool off a good bit after tho. I made a kettle of chicken noodle soup and we ate and I went back out and racked up all the mess I had left. I am sure it will be fun tomorrow counting chigger bumps on me.
Just before the rain started this evening, we had a light wind blowing. The wind was blowing leaves in the yard. Just so much like it does in fall. I love fall, it has to be my favorite season. Hard to believe some of the trees are starting to lose leaves already. I kinda get a squirrel complex this time of year. I feel the urge to get things done and picked and canned and put away before its all gone. Guess tomorrow it will be back to the garden to pick tomatoes and maybe some peppers. I think I will make spaghetti sauce with what ever tomatoes I pick tomorrow. I have a good deal of ground beef in the freezer and am needing to make more meatloaf to can also.
Last time I was in the garden, I looked at my celery and I don't know what the heck eats celery but something had dug holes under the plants and ate on them and they are all gone now. Dang lil critters.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things are slowing down

It seems like just a few weeks ago we planted our garden and as I look at it now, most of it has been mowed down. Not as busy as I was a few weeks ago. Not much left to can from the garden.  All the things that are done producing have been mowed or bush hogged down to make turning the ground easier. Kinda makes ya feel like fall is around the corner. I still have 2 kinds of shell beans (great northern and cranberry) that are in the garden to allow them to dry on the vines. My tomatoes are still producing some along and I still have peppers in there. The tobacco worm beans that were planted the week after fathers day are starting to bloom now. So I do hope I have some of those to can. My Kentucky wonder bush beans didn't do well at all this year. I think one thing that hurt them was the fact that I planted 1 long row along side the field corn and they were not well pollinated. Beans and corn need to be planted in blocks (several short rows) instead of 1 long row. This does help a lot with the bees working the area. We only had about 20 sweet potato plants total to plant so those are in the garden somewhere in the grass.
My cucumbers in the garden have stopped producing and the vines are dying out. I planted the National Pickling cukes this year and they are an heirloom variety. I have seen several large yellow cukes on the trellis where the cukes were so I will be getting those to save the seed.
I have already saved some of the Abe Lincoln tomato seeds. They are a really good tomato, and don't have a core in them to speak of. Instead they will have 3 or 4 small green core like spots. Makes nice juicing tomatoes. They are from a plant that hitchhiked to the flower bed in front of the cellar in some flowers that I planted there. It got really big in the poor dirt that was there and we did stake it up till the kittens climbed up in the plant and broke it. Although broken it still grew and produced some really nice tomatoes. There were no others close to cross pollinate and ruin the seed so I have saved those for next season. So I do have a start on the basic necessary seeds for us for next garden season. Slow progress.
Rodger got the second brewing of beer bottled a little bit ago. This one was a dark beer. I had him store this bottled batch in the cellar. Last time we bottled, we put it in the pantry near the back entry. Then one night I heard a loud pop in that area. Sure enough I checked and 1 bottle had exploded, beer ran all over. We do think it was from a defective bottle tho and not the beer itself.  Now to get all the equipment sanitized and start another batch.
Till next time, blessing from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Where does the dirt come from

Not only where does the dirt come from but how does it make its way all the way up the walls to the ceiling. I am a pretty decent housekeeper but gosh. I sure would have been embarrassed to die and let someone find my house this bad. Well it was too hot to be outside today and besides I didn't have anything to can today. I decided to just stay in and try to do some really late spring cleaning. Or early fall cleaning, depending on perspective. I usually try to paint the inside of the house ever year but this year it hasn't happened so far. Guess that is what inspired me to just wash the walls instead. They do look better now. So that has been my task today. I think I am about half done with that and will finish tomorrow. I might just get real energetic and clean carpets too while I am in the mood. We shall see.
Amoy finally made it home this evening from Jamaica. She went to visit family and attend a family reunion. She got back just in time to drive thru a thunderstorm getting here. We had a pretty good storm, lots of lightening, thunder and rain. Pretty sure the garden will be plenty muddy tomorrow to pick beans and tomatoes. It did cool the air for a little bit after the rain.
Rob called this evening too. He had a job interview today at Barrick where he has been doing his internship. He should know early next week if he gets the job. If he does it means he and Amoy will be moving to Nevada. He sounded kinda down when I talked to him. He told me they had 2 miners lost in the mines where he works. This is so not normal for this type of mine. This company has a great safety record. They had already done a press release when I talked to Rob. So sad to hear. I think we should say and extra prayer for the miners and their families tonight that they be found alive and well.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It was hot today!

This is one of the hottest days we have had this year. I know the weather man says a lot of things but my thermometer spoke up today and confirmed my suspicions. It was 100 degrees and the thermometer was in the shade today around 11 am.

If red means danger, then it was in the danger zone today. Late this evening near dark we got a lil bit of rain, and I just know it will be that much hotter tomorrow.
I got another 7 quarts of tomato juice made and canned today in spite of the heat. Tomorrow evening I will need to check on the green beans and see if there are some to pick and can. Yesterday I had harvested the rest of my grapes and was thinking of making wine with those as I had already made 12 pints of grape jelly. But this evening I just went ahead and extracted the juice from the grapes and made more jelly. That should do us for a few years. This weekend I need to check on my pears and see if they are about ready to be picked. I sure do like pear preserves or as some call it, pear honey.
I weeded the onion bed out back where I have walking onions growing and I have a bunch of lil green onions in the bed. I planted some cucumber vines down there as well in case I didn't have any in the garden. Garsh, I got more cukes that I know what to do with. I will likely make more dills with the cukes that I am getting now. Jason ate a quart of dill pickles this evening while he was here messing with his computer. AND drank the dang juice. He did that when he was wee little too. Ya go to the fridge to get dill pickles and they were in the jar and the juice was all gone.
I think this watermelon here on the table needs a few slices taken out of it, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Finished the corn

We finally finished the corn this evening and as of right now I am in the summer kitchen getting it all canned up. I think there will be about 30 pints total when I get done. That also left a few bags of corn on the cob for the freezer. A reader had ask not long ago what I used to cut the corn off with and I use a knife. They make a gizmo that you can slide the ear of corn along and it cuts off the corn and scrapes the cob as you go. I have seen those and tried one and all I did was cut up my fingers and knuckles.  I don't care for having knuckle meat in my canned corn. Yeah I know, thas gross. So I will stick to my trusty knife. Once you get the hang of it, this method goes for what seems to me a lot quicker than the corn cutter off thingys. Maybe this lil video clip will give you some idea as to how I do my corn. Enjoy the night sounds of Kentucky, I was cutting off corn at 11 pm.

New fangled gadgets are great sometimes but most times the old fashioned ways are best for me. Or maybe I am just a creature of habit.  This will be the last of the corn for this season and now I have plenty canned up to last a long time. This particular corn was the Stowells Evergreen white normal sweet corn, an open pollinated variety. I did leave enough in the garden to be able to harvest some for seed for next season. That is if the coons and other critters don't find it.
While we were in the garden we picked another bushel of tomatoes and those get turned into juice or spaghetti sauce tomorrow. I might be able to get enough tomatoes out of our garden to can a good supply for us. In my mind I like to at least have 200 quarts of tomato juice, and another 100 or 150 of other various tomato products in the cellar. This will last us all year till gardens come in again next summer. Hopefully longer if we have a bad crop season.
I harvested the rest of my grapes today and had about 12 lb of them after they were taken off the stems and cleaned. I am thinkin these will make wine, cause I am sure 12 pints of grape jelly will be plenty for us. There is still more jelly to be made from other things this summer. The wild plums are not ripe yet, nor apples or pears. But no matter what else I make I will be buying more pint jars. It is hard to believe I have used 10 dozen pints already that I had just bought. But I think thas a good thing.
I got a call from Rob this evening and he tole me I will have Abby till prolly this weekend. Amoy flew to Jamaica to visit family and was going on a buddy pass that her sister had gotten for her. This means she was taking standby flights to and from Jamaica. Well she was hoping she had a flight out on Monday but as it stands she will not be leaving until Thursday at the earliest. Rob also tole me that he has a job interview on Thursday at another gold mine in Elco Nevada. He is hoping to get the job. If so they will be moving to Nevada this fall. Not sure I like the idea of them being so far from us but he is a smart young man and will be fine where ever he is. I think he and we were kinda wishing he could find something a lil closer to Kentucky. But such is life in the job field right now. We all just pray for the best for him and Amoy where ever they end up.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Cant get done..

It really is hard to get things done that you want to do when you cant stay home. I had a doc appointment today which took me off the farm and just ruined my whole dang day. Not a big deal, just a visit to get meds refilled and the doc changed my arthritis medicine. Now I am taking a high power NSAID. I just hope my belly can tolerate it. I will know in a week or so.
After we had supper I washed off all the jars of canned stuff from yesterday and got those ready for the cellar. I got about a bushel of tomatoes to make into juice or maybe spaghetti sauce tomorrow. I could make the sauce as I use it but I just like being able to go to the cellar and get sauce and make supper. We like lots of meat in our sauce. I start with a large kettle of tomato juice and simmer it lightly seasoned, and I do mean lightly seasoned with oregano, basil, parsley (home grown herbs), salt, pepper,garlic powder and a pinch of brown sugar along with a good deal of minced onion. If I have bell peppers handy I will add a few of those minced as well. After the flavors have blended well I put the sauce in a crock pot and set it on low overnight to thicken. In the morning I add browned ground beef to the sauce and put in jars and pressure can quarts at 10 lb pressure for 90 minutes. It will seal nicely and when you are ready to serve if need be you can adjust the seasoning. The seasonings will get stronger as the sauce cooks down in the crock pot so this is the reason for seasoning lightly. As with any tomato based sauce, if you add about a teaspoon of corn starch to the sauce before heating it will thicken better and stick to the pasta better. Just something I have learned from experience. Dang this does sound like a plan for tomorrow. I can make the juice in the morning and let it cook all day and can the sauce tomorrow evening when it is not so hot outside. Our temps are supposed to be in the high 90's all this week with high humidity. Sounds like a good time to stay inside and do inside stuff this week. Might even clean the house really good after the "baby" Abby goes home. She makes more of a mess with toys and food that most kids.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Peeling peaches, canning juice and corn

When I got my summer kitchen I didn't think I was gonna have to live out here. But it seems that way some days. I started kinda early this morning so I could get my peaches canned and the tomatoes worked up into juice. I bet you didn't notice that peach pits are the same size no matter what size the peaches are. Well they are. Have a looksee sometime. Peel a big and little peach and compare the pit size, they will be the same size. OK just another one of my ingenious discoveries. I canned some of my peaches in slices and some in halves. I just peel them with a sharp knife and don't scald them if the peaches are good and solid. But if they are really ripe and softer I will scald them to skin em. Peaches are easy to open like an avocado if you cut the right way. Looking at a peach you will see a seam on one side, imagine the seam going all the way around the peach. Those halves are called cheeks. You want to cut a circle around the peach that is in the middle of each cheek, then twist and the peach will come apart easily leaving the pit in one side. Flick the pit out and peel the peach just like peeling an apple. Then cut as desired into water that has Fruit Fresh added to it. Then transfer the fruit to your kettle leaving the treated water behind. Sprinkle a light dusting of Fruit Fresh over fruit again and a thin layer of sugar. Continue till you are done with the peaches.Add a good layer of sugar on top and almost cover them with water. Simmer till they are fork tender stirring gently. When they are done, ladle into hot jars and cover with the cooking liquid and seal. You can water bath for quarts for 30 minutes if you like, but I don't. Not hard to do. Tomato juice is a lil more time consuming but well worth it. I got about 2 gallon of juice canned today using odd sized jars. I just used the tomatoes that were ripe enough to make juice and left the others in a box to finish getting ripe. I will have to pick more tomatoes tomorrow anyway. So they are an ongoing project. You can see from the picture that I ain't perfect too. Jus like a tad bit of juice to make the pint full, and a couple jars of muh peaches shrunk. But they will taste just as good.
We went to the garden this afternoon to pick some of the sweet corn from the 3rd patch we planted. It is Stowells Evergreen, a white sweet corn. This is probably the only seed that I got from Shumway that was true to character. And it was really pretty corn. I have 16 pints of that in the pressure canner right now. We did put a few bags in the freezer on the cob. In the process of vacuum sealing the corn Rodger made the comment that the bags were safe to boil in. He said maybe we should just add some butter to the bags with the corn and then when we eat it just boil it in the bag. Great idea! So we put a few in there with butter already added. If it works it will be the lazy way to butter ya corn. Darn, now why didn't I think to sprinkle some salt and pepper in there with the butter? Well there is always tomorrow night when we pick more corn.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yard sale treasures

We went to the 127 Yard sale today. We had went last year and found some good places that had lots of old tools and antiques. Those were the places we went back to this year. We did find a few things that we wanted. I found another old hand tobacco setter. It is in great shape and identical to the one we had here.

This will come in handy in the spring when we transplant tomatoes and such in the garden. These handy tools make the hole, drop the plant in and water all with the simple pull of the handle.
On this excursion I was looking for old canning and cook book. I found several of them. One was an old Kerr canning book from the early 70's. The recipes are still good you just have to adjust the pressure and timing for todays standards.
For people who know me know that I have a weakness for Goetze's caramel creams. I have thought of times when I was younger going to stores and you could buy those caramels by the pound. I mentioned to Jason today when we were between yard sales that I had an urge for some Goetze caramels. We pulled into the big yard sale that is on the property of a church in Frankfort Kentucky and the first vendor we came to had Goetze caramels by the 12 oz bag. Needless to say I came away with 6 bags. One bag was gone is short order. By time we got home this is what was left.

OK so I had my sugar fix for the day. We had a nice time just plundering around looking at all the stuff people were selling. I found a cute lil plate that is going on the wall in my kitchen.
We drove about 150 miles one way to go to all these yard sales. A nice day all and all. I did find some peaches and got a bushel of them to can tomorrow.
We finally got home kinda late and I am thinking it is about bed time. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Picking beans and tomatoes

We went to the garden this evening and picked the beans that were ready off the row of Kentucky wonder bush beans. Another seed that I had ordered from Shumway and they are everything but Kentucky wonder. We got total about 1/2 bushel. Didn't take long to string and break those and get them in the jars for canning. Lots of the tomatoes were ripe but you throw away 1 rotten one for every 3 you pick. Still got close to a bushel of those. I will make the juice tomorrow evening.
This weekend is the big 127 yard sale that runs from the northern Ohio state line to Alabama. Jason and I are planning on going to that to see what we can find that we don't need. This is one of those kinda sales that if you need one, somebody there will be selling one. Last year it was at this yard sale that I found my hand tobacco setter that we used to set tomatoes and all the other transplants in the garden. Rodger didn't want to go with us so he volunteered to keep the baby( Abby) so we didn't have to take her out in the heat. Last year Rob and Amoy went with us. But this year Amoy is in Jamaica and Rob is in Nevada.
I think I learned something about wine making. It is far too hot in my summer kitchen with the AC off to make wine. I think it killed my yeast. So this evening we filtered the must out of the juice and went ahead and added the sugar and more yeast to get it going again. It is already bubbling in the fermentation tank. So lesson learned, keep the fermentation vessel where the temp stays between 70 to 80 degrees. After straining out all the berries and putting the liquid back in the fermentation vessel we still had better than 4 gallon of potential wine.
Hope to get more sweet corn picked and canned this weekend after I get back from the yard sale. I am hoping the 3 patch of corn is true to seed. I pulled a few ears this evening and they look really good. They should be Stowells evergreen which is a white sweet corn. Open pollinated of course and if it is good and true to characteristic I will be saving some seed from it to plant next year.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Making jelly, canning tomato juice

Our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen a little more now. The other night when we were in the garden we picked almost a bushel of tomatoes and put them in a small tote so they wouldn't be bruised in 5 gallon buckets. For some reason they are bruising really easy this year and will rot in no time. I did find several that had gotten mushy in the tote but still had enough to make over 5 quarts of juice. For the smaller amounts of tomatoes I usually just wash, chop and cook them to release the juice and run them thru the food mill into a clean kettle and put back on the stove to heat to boiling. Let boil for about 5 minutes and then ladle into hot jars and seal.

I had been keeping eye on my grape vines and harvesting the grape clusters as they ripened. After we have had rain for a couple days, nearly all of them were ripe today. I got them picked and washed and thought of freezing them to make jelly later. Then had another thought. Why not go ahead and make the jelly while I had a little free time. So I put the grapes in a big kettle with about a 1/4 cup water just to get them started cooking. Then retrieved the one that I had frozen earlier and tossed them in the pot. I let them simmer for about 15 minutes to extract all the juice. Then set up my jelly bag and drained the grape juice into a kettle. I had enough juice to make 3 batches of grape jelly. I made it all in one batch. You know me, I never follow the rules. The recipe was 15 cups of grape juice, 3 boxes of sure jell combine, 1 teaspoon of real butter and cook to full rolling boil. Then dump in 18 cups of sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring this to a full rolling boil for 4 minutes. The package will tell you to boil for 1 minute after it comes to this full rolling boil. But when you do multiple batches it does need to boil longer. Also you can do the "sheet test" to determine if it is ready. Take a cold metal spoon and dip in the boiling jelly and let it run off. If the drops run together on the edge of the spoon and slide off forming a sheet instead of individual drops then the jelly is done. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute or so and let the foam settle then skim this off the jelly. It wont hurt the jelly but just looks nicer. Ladle into hot jars and seal. I don't do the boiling water bath. The jelly temp is higher than the boiling point of water, so to me putting them in a boiling water bath just cools the jars down quicker. Just make sure everything is really clean when you start and there should be no problems.
It was nice working out in the summer kitchen today with the nice thunderstorms that rolled thru our area. We got a good deal of  rain from all the noise too. We didn't try to go to the garden this evening after it had rained. But tomorrow we really will have to go even if its mud knee deep. I know there will be beans to pick, and prolly PEPH peas, and maters. Last time we were in the garden Rodger got the tobacco worm beans staked. Maybe I can get some pics so ya can see how we use river canes to stake them up. River cane is very much like bamboo only smaller. Cane poles are much sought after in Appalachia for staking beans in the garden.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I dont like big cities

Have I tole you lately that I don't like the bigger cities.? Well I don't. We had to go to Lexington today for a doc appointment for Rodger. It was just a post surgery visit so the doc could look at his finger and charge the insurance company. And they didn't take out the stitches. Oh well. On the way we stopped in Richmond to pick up Abby, Rob and Amoys lil dog. She is the cutest thing. And a good lil girl. Amoy was flying to Jamaica to visit her family for a few days and Rob is still in Nevada. We get to baby sit for a few days.  I got a text message from Amoy as she was on the way, and she said her sis got her a buddy pass, and it ended up being a first class flight to Jamaica. Am happy she got first class for the longer flight. Although this meant we had Abby with us all day in Lexington. She very much like myself don't like to be hot and we were. Well it really meant I had her outside all day. And dang was it hot. The ambient temp today was posed to be near 100 degrees. I can believe it. Had to make a few stops while we were out, and one of us stayed in the truck with Abby while the other did the errands. Needless to say we kept the AC running too. Kinda nice to be home where it is cooler and be still for a while.
We got home late which means I did not get anything picked from the garden. I will need to do the tomatoes that we picked last night before I can go get more. Tomorrow evening it will be time to pick the green beans again too. I just hope the beans do well enough that we have plenty to can.
Not much happening here today with us gone, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Canning, growing odd things

As of right now I am in the summer kitchen processing more of those good PEPH peas. We picked another bushel last night and got them shelled out. I just didn't want to spend another late night out here canning them that late so chose to do them today.
The must is coming along for the blackberry wine that I got started. The berries float to the top when it sits and they have to be stirred down ever so often. I does have a wine smell even this early.

This is before it was stirred down.

This is after stirring. It is working really well. We can hope for some good wine in a year or so. Sure seems like a long time to wait for the simple pleasures in life. But I do reckin the finer things in life are worth the wait.
As soon as the peas get finished canning I am going make tomato juice. We picked nearly a bushel of ripe tomatoes last evening. I am sure glad to have the tomatoes because my tomato products are running really low in the cellar. Last year blight got the tomatoes and this year they seem to be quite slow in ripening. But all in good time I guess.
While I was in the garden I went off to inspect my vine peaches. I got the seeds from one of the seed companies this year as a lil bonus and decided to plant them just for chits and giggles. Well the vines look very much like cucumbers but have these little softball sized fruits on them. I was thinking they were a hybrid but from what I am reading they have been around a long time. Interesting huh? Here is some info I found on them.

And this pic is of vine peaches from my garden.

They look neat if nothing else. They are also called mango melon. To me the taste and texture is between a cantaloupe and honeydew melon.
This is the extent of the excitement in my day. Till next time, blessing from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The dog days of summer

We are having the typical Kentucky weather for the past few days. Hot and humid, kinda drains the energy out of ya. Had a long night last night, didn't get finished canning and git in bed till around 4 am this morning. So that made for a late morning for me, which is normal. After I finally got up and moving around, had my coffee and got started on the day. I went to the summer kitchen to wash off all the jars of canned stuff from the night before and get them ready for the cellar. I had picked some hot banana peppers the evening before and was thinking of slicing them to pickle. Then I had second thoughts. Well ya know, I wear contacts, and can not imagine how painful that could be to have hot pepper on your hands and then stick ya finger in ya eye. Nope not me, so Rodger volunteered to de-seed the peppers. Well now he is complaining, but we ain't goin there. Anywho this is the recipe for the pickled peppers.

1 peck(2 gallon hot or mild banana peppers)
1 ½ cups salt
4 quarts water
10 cups vinegar
2 cups water
½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons chopped garlic 
Wash peppers, cut off stem end and split length wise and take out seeds. Mix water and salt to dissolve and add peppers. Let set 12 hours or so. Drain and rinse and drain well. Make pickling solution of remaining ingredients and heat to boiling. Pack peppers into hot jars and pour boiling solution over them in jars. Seal. If you choose these can be water bathed for 10 minutes. This made 5 pints.

I don't think we will need any more hot peppers for a bit. But if there are more on the plants, I reckin I would have to can em.
The blackberries that I had taken out of the freezer yesterday had thawed enough today that I could mash them up and get the wine started. So that is doin its thing in a big 6 gallon bucket in the kitchen.
I went to the cellar to get jars for the peppers and be dang, I noticed my crock of kraut. Gosh it has been in there for seems like a long time. I got it down and toted it to the kitchen to see if I had let it ruin or if it was kraut. Well it was kraut and dang good at that. I will need the crock in a week or so and decided to just pack the kraut in canning jars for storage. As you know I got this new vacuum sealer thingy this year and we decided to give it a try on vacuum sealing the kraut. Well it worked like a charm. I don't like to heat the kraut because that destroys all the good healthy bacteria that is in there that is good for your belly. The German fermenting crocks are a neat trick, they have a rim around the top that you fill with water to make a sort of water lock to keep out air which can cause kraut to mold and get soft.
So here I am packing it in jars.

The kraut needs to be pushed down and pressed and have enough of the liquid from the crock to cover it. This will help prevent it from becoming dark as it sits.
Now this is a proud vacuum sealer operator after the jars are sealed. Now they are stored in the cellar just waiting for me and my fork.
Then Rodger went off to get the yard mowed before it rained again. This is the first year that we have been up here on the hill that we have had what you could call a yard. We really have grass now, and no weeds. We didn't use any chemicals to accomplish this either, just mowed on a regular basis and it kills the weeds out. Now we still need to trim, but thas minor detail.
Oh and I forgot to share a beer with ya last night too. Gosh how rude of me! But anyway the pale ale that we bottled last weekend is the one we were sampling last night. After tasting the ale, I don't think I can drink any store bought beer now. This was smooth, one of those you could drink yourself into a stupor and not know till ya couldn't walk. The alcohol content was at 9% which is perfect for me. More adventures on the beer making later. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.