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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cleaning out the freezer, canning stuff

I finally got around to cleaning out the big freezer today while it wasn't so hot outside as the freezer is in an outbuilding. Got all the stuff sorted out and found some chicken in there that was from last years butchering. I had put 2 big bags of chicken wings in there with plans to make buffalo wings. Well we see how that turned out. I took all the chicken out that was in the bottom and made stock from it to can. When we put all the stuff back in the freezer I put it in clean pillow cases. The veggies are in one, fruit in another, meat in another, ans so on.  I got the chicken parts all cooked down this afternoon.  While that was cooking I made 5 quarts of tomato juice. My tomatoes are not ripening enough to allow me to do a lot at one time like I normally do. So I will just make it a few quarts at a time. I let the stock set so the pressure could drop on the pressure cooker and went to the garden and picked some more sweet corn. Got all that cleaned and cut off to can. Now the stock is strained and in jars in the canner just cooking away and when that is done I can put the corn in to process. Then I can call it a day. Kinda been a lazy Saturday around here and that's all we got done. Tomorrow might be a different story. So till then, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, July 30, 2010

A nice day and did nothing

The weather was a little cooler today, not so much humidity and I haven't got a single thing done. Went to check on mom at the nursing home and then back home to start supper. I had intended to pick some corn after supper. Well intended is the key word here. I took a nap after we ate, and hubby didn't wake me up. See I can blame my laziness on him right here.And heck I didn't wake up till well after dark and past corn pickin time. Oh well, theres alas tomorrow.
I was thinking earlier today about some of the things that I have canned this year and some of my sweet readers that emailed and ask me to post more recipes. So I thought I would do just that. This year my new thing to be canned was the meatloaf. I turned out really good and it makes for a great convenience food for us.

Meat loaf

2 lb hamburger (as lean as you can afford) ( I use 90/10)
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper(red and green)
1/2 cup celery finely chopped
1 sleeve of crackers crushed fine
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs(ya can just use more crackers)
2 whole eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
black pepper to taste
some condensed tomato soup

Mix the ingredients together and use enough of the tomato soup (condensed) to make the mixture hold shape. Maybe half a can. At this point you can shape in a loaf and bake covered with the remaining tomato soup mixed with some water till it tests done.

To can:
Use wide mouth pint jars, they will be straight neck for ease of removal later. Put a chunk of meatloaf in the jar, loosely pack leaving 1 inch of head space. Screw on lid, put in pressure canner, process at 10 lb pressure for 75 minutes. (adjust your processing for your elevation)
This recipe will make about 5 or 6 pints. You can adjust the veggies to suit your taste as well. This is the way we like it.
Now when it is sealed and cool, you will see a good deal of fat has accumulated in the jar. This is normal and if you set it in the fridge for a lil bit before you open it, it will make the fat easier to just scrape off with a fork and discard. You can then heat the meat loaf up if you like with more tomato soup or ketchup and serve.
I like to take it out of the jar, slice into round slices and top with mater soup and heat it up then use the soup as gravy over mashed taters. Yummy!!!

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back on the farm now and canning

Well I am back on the farm now after the hectic first part of the week. I was really busy over the weekend and on Monday. After the guys got in from work on Monday evening we had to go pick the sweet corn, maters and cukes and PEPH peas. They prefer I wait for them to help with this cause I have trouble toting heavy things. I was really trying hard to get caught up while hubby had the use of both his hands. Really we were not sure how much pain he was going to have after surgery .OK maybe that sounded selfish, but golly with all this garden a girl needs all the help she can get. We picked 3 big 50 lb feed bags full of sweet corn that was gonna need to be cleaned to can. By time we did this it was like 10 pm and I was far to tired to stay up later to can it and good thing too. We had to get up at 4 am to leave and go to Lexington for Rodgers surgery. The surgery went great, he ended up having a cyst on the side of his finger where it had to be amputated 3 years ago after a crush injury. Initially they left a small piece of nail bed on there and a nail had started to grow under the skin and caused the cyst. That was removed and the finger kinda reshaped. He is doing good with it and is hoping to go back to work tomorrow. But he cant use his finger for a good while till it heals. Which translates into no corn shucking, bean shelling and that kinda stuff. But he does pick up and do what his boo boo will let em. Any who, we cleaned all the sweet corn and I got it cut off the cob ready to can. As I have already said I don't want to freeze any more than I have to. So I put 2 big aluminum dish pans (yeah the ole fashioned ones like ya granny had) full o corn in the fridge to can when we got home on Tuesday afternoon. In the harvesting process Monday evening we had a 5 gallon bucket of maters, those were precariously placed on the bar in the real kitchen to let ripen a couple more days. Yeah ya know how that smells if there is a rotten one in there. Real nice!!!! Jason picked the cukes to the tune of about a peck or so, just set those in the house where it was cool to make sweet relish with. Then the bushel of PEPH peas were set in the summer kitchen to be shelled when we got home. I know we had a lot of things waiting on us when we got back. But its all good in the hood.
Hubby's surgery was started late for what ever reason. Never did figure that out unless the doc was on the pot or something. But we finally got out of there around noon. Now the ones that know me know I don't do mornings. And I had to be up at 4:30 to shower and leave around 5:30. This should have given me time fer at least one cup o coffee and a few smokes. I don't remember too much, translated into not enough sleep. Rodger did fine with the surgery and recovery stuff and was just a happy lil camper, no pain and as usual after surgery a lil goofy from the meds. Dang hind sight, should have ask em for a new truck while he was buzzin. Now THAT would have been mean. Any way we had a couple stops to make before we came home. One was to get something to eat as we were starving. Then to wally world, Sportsman's Warehouse (I like that place), then to liquor barn to get an airlock so I can get my wine started. I was so sleepy and tired, every time I sat down I would doze off to sleep. But I was the one that had to drive home. We made it home around 5 pm. I took a nap, cause they aint no canning going on till I did. Finally got started on the corn around 7 or so and as it was processing we shelled the peas. The last canning of corn was mixed with 8 quarts of peas and 8 pints of corn. They both process the same length of time so that worked out well for me. That finished up around 3 am this morning. Imagine I was dragging ass by time I got in bed after that last canner.
Today I made 5 quarts of mater juice, which is not much but it helps, and got that canned today. I had the cukes to use for something so made some sweet relish with those. I so hate to see any little thing not get used. This is a good way to use those OOPS cukes that you missed day before yesterday when ya picked that are long as your arm and still green. Although if the cukes are really big, I will take out the seeds, I don't care for big seeds in my relish.
The recipe called for bell peppers, so instead of making the trip to the garden I just used some that I had frozen. Here's the recipe for the sweet relish that I make. It is just the perfect balance of sweet and tart for use on  hot dogs and such.

Sweet Pickle Relish

4 cups chopped cucumber(I chop in food processor)
2cups chopped onion(also in food processor) (I'm lazy see)
1 cup chopped green pepper (yep this too, an mine was from the freezer)
1 cups chopped red sweet pepper(uh huh this too)
1/4 cup canning salt

Mix the salt with the veggies and cover with a layer of crushed ice and cold water and let stand for about 2 hours or so. Then drain and squeeze dry. I use my hand to get all the liquid out that I can. You do want to do this as the liquid is kinda salty. After ya get it all squeezed, put in heavy kettle.

Pickling mixture

3 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups white vinegar(just looks better than the darker apple cider but the flavor would be about the same)
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed

Heat the pickling mixture till it gets hot then add the veggies. Ya want liquid in there but not too runny, about like runny mashed taters. Not that I would know what those are like. hahaha!!
Heat the mixture to boiling and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into hot jars, your choice of size, pints half pints, quarts, don't matter. I use pints tho. Wipe the jar rim well and put on the lid an tighten down.
ALL done now. I don't use a boiling water bath but if you think you must,  process pints 10 minutes in boiling water bath. This recipe will make about 5 pints.
When I canned the peas last night I had 1 jar that didn't seal for me and a couple pints of corn cut off that I didn't want to process beings there were just 2 pints so we had the peas for supper tonight with corn, fresh maters, mashed taters, and a jar of canned beef with gravy, biscuits (from a bag). We obviously eat pretty hardy around here as there were not any left overs to speak of and there is just 3 of us. Tomorrow its back to the garden and start the process all over again.
So till then blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Butchering and canning chicken, bottling beer

We got an early start this morning with the chicken butchering. Didn't take long to finish off the last 9 left from yesterday. I got them all cut up, vacuum packed the meat that was going to the freezer and got the stock started. I had about 15 lbs of chicken backs, wing tips, and other bony pieces and fat. I put that in the pressure canner with about 2 cups of celery stalks roughly chopped, 3 medium onions, and about 2 cups of carrots, then added a little bit of salt and pepper and a splash of vinegar and water to almost cover. Then pressure cooked all this for about 2 hours. Strained the stock into a kettle. Luna loves the left over cooked chicken. I had skinned the thighs and legs and deboned the thighs,and put them in the jars. Ladled the stock over the chicken and filled 5 more jars of just stock with the 7 quarts of chicken. Processed this for 90 minutes at 10 lb pressure. So now  I have a good supply of canned chicken and stock. So I have been outside or in the summer kitchen all day long. I am so glad they put an air conditioner in my lil summer kitchen or the heat would be unbearable in there. The heat and humidity here has been terrible. Then we got a pretty good storm this evening too. I had  my laptop out there and could surf the net and wait on things to can.
The guys went to Richmond today to pick up a free washer that Jason found on freecycle and brought it home. I had them stop at walmart and pick up some more canning jars for me. I had them get 10 dozen regular quarts and 5 dozen wide mouth quarts. I don't have many jars left that are empty for some reason. So now I will sure have enough jars for canning green beans and tomato products. The10 dozen pints I bought  a couple weeks ago will be used to can corn and other jams and jellies. I had also ask them to see if Lowes had any 100 lb propane cylinders in stock and they did, so they got 2 of those. One will be used for propane for my summer kitchen and 1 for a propane heater for back up heat here in the house. Cause we know its no fun waking up with the power off and it near zero outside with total electric heat. A bigger tank will be better for the summer kitchen, wont be as likely to run out in the middle of canning something that requires a long pressure canning time. It would sure suck to get within a few minutes of being done with, say a meat, and run out and lose pressure below 10 lb and have to start the counting over again.
It was time this evening to bottle the beer that we had started brewing a couple weeks ago. So Rodger and Jason set about doing that. I think it is kinda cool to make you own beer.
This was our first batch so we will let you know later how it turns out. It has to sit in the bottles for 2 weeks before you drink it for it to be at its best. We shall see. But no matter, they wanted to go ahead and start another batch. So the brew tank is on the counter doing its thing.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

I dont do mornings, its been a long day

I am not nor ever will be a morning person. When I say I am doing something in the "morning" you bout bet I mean not before 10 am. But I was forced outta bed this morning by someone dragging my leg off the side of the bed. Yeah I had to get up early and get started butchering chickens in order to be done so we could attend a cousins wedding. So with lots of grunting and moaning I rolled out and tried to get some coffee down hoping to be more alert and get in gear. My belly did not want or need coffee at 8 am, so it didn't keep it. That is not the way to start a day of butchering. But finally I got moving in the right direction and got all my ducks in a row. All be it a sluggish start for me, we got 12 butchered today, just Rodger and I. It went really fast once we developed a method to the madness. Only took about 2 hours to get those done. Then got them in the summer kitchen, which is so nice to keep the mess outta the house. Washed the breast and vacuum packed those for the freezer. I did leave about 6 of them whole to do on the rotisserie and got those vacuum packed as well. Then I take the skin off the legs and thighs and debone the thighs to be canned after I make a good rich stock from the back and other bony pieces. I did manage to get the stock cooked down and ready to strain before stopping to take a shower so we could go to the wedding. The wedding was really pretty, the bride is a 1st cousins daughter on hubby's side. And such a beautiful bride. A really cute couple. And I wish Cara and Derek a long happy life together. I did take many pictures so I could forward those on to Rob and Amoy as they didn't get to be there.
We got home and I got started in on finishing up the chicken and stock and getting that all canned before I have to do the rest of the chickens tomorrow. So as I type this I am sitting in the summer kitchen waiting on the canner to be done.I will have 6quarts of chicken and 5 of chicken stock when they are finished. The canned chicken makes the absolute best chicken noodle soup and chicken and dumplings. Goes down really well on cold days. OK I'm about done with this project and will be off to bed soon. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Garden seed rip-off

I am so mad at the seed companies this year. I ordered my seeds from Shumway like I have been doing for several years. Up till now they have been good and true to variety. Not this year. First it was the sweet corn, the Golden Bantam that turned out to be anything but Golden Bantam. Now I am really mad about the tomatoes. I started mostly Rutgers, the few that are getting ripe are not anything like the Rutger that I remember growing up. The tomatoes are small and it is not the plants. The plants are healthy and have lots of blooms, just really small tomatoes. I am thinking I will be buying tomato products at the store unless the tomatoes improve and I really don't see that happening. I had this same problem a few years ago with white half runner beans. White half runner beans will get big enough to have a good sized bean inside them and the hulls will still be tender. Not the last ones I ordered from Shumway. OK enough of my rant.
Tomorrow is chicken killing day. So I have lots to do. Not to mention we have to stop by noon and get ready to attend a wedding. Then back home to finish canning the chicken.
I got 12 more pints of Paul's sweet lime pickles canned up today. This time I added a few cinnamon sticks in the pickling solution. Rodger likes them with the cinnamon flavor. I normally make 14 day pickles for him. These are much easier to make so hopefully this will keep him happy.
I haven't done a lot today other than try to keep my chickens from getting too hot. The heat was worse today that it has been all summer in my opinion. I pretty much stayed in and did get the house cleaned so it wouldn't get condemned.
I got to talk to Rob today for a bit. He will be finished with his internship on August 19th. He has invited me to come with Amoy to Nevada and take the road trip back home with them. I'm kinda excited about a road trip. The general plan is for Amoy and I to fly to Las Vegas and Rob pick us up there. The go south east thru Flagstaff Arizona and maybe to Roswell New Mexico just because. Then thru Texas and not sure where from there. It should be a fun trip. Don't think Rob is going to be permanently working in Nevada so this trip probably wont come around again in this lifetime. So I think we should make the best of it.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Different ways to do things

As I get older I learn that there are more ways to do things than people to do them. And most people choose what ever method their ancestors used or what ever worked for their location. OK I not chasin my tail here. I picked up a magazine that I have had for about 28 years. Yep I kept them because they are "Home Canning" magazine. They have lots of really good canning recipes in them, all be it they are from 1982. I was reading in one of them today about preserving butter without the benefit of refrigeration. And it is really simple to do.
Butter can be preserved by storing it in a container covered in salt water. Make a brine of salt and water strong enough to float a fresh egg in. Make sure the egg is fresh because an old egg will float in plain water. Boil the salt water for about 5 minutes and let it cool. Allow to stand over night then strain being careful not to disturb the sediment in the bottom of the pot. Place the fresh sweet cream butter (sweet butter keeps better than salted) in a crock or like container. Cover with the brine solution. So you have chunks of butter submerged in salt water. Use a weight if necessary to keep the butter under the brine, cover the container tightly and store in a cool place. Stored by this method, butter will stay fresh up to 6 months. Good info to have in the event you lose power for an extended period of time and have a good supply of butter on hand.  Butter can also be clarified and put in canning jars while it is still hot and it will seal. Clarified butter is the best for frying. Not to mention the wonderful flavor it give to the dish. Of course the USDA would frown on this method but this is what folks did long before there was a USDA or refrigeration. Don't know why but I find this kind of knowledge interesting.
Maybe I been out in the heat too long. I finished shelling the PEPH peas this morning and got those canned up. The second batch of Paul's sweet lime pickles are in the pickling solution waiting to be canned tomorrow morning. Then it will be off to the garden to pick more cukes and peas to do later. Saturday will be butchering day. I haven't been off the farm all week and I do need to get out of here and buy some more canning jars before I run out. Am thinking this would be a good time to clone me. I got enough things to keep 5 of me busy for days on end. And if one of me don't clean the house it is gonna get condemned. Not to mention the siding outside that hasn't been washed all year. And the list goes on. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Making pickles

Well today I finished the sweet lime pickles from yesterday. And oh my are they good. They are so crisp, more crisp than a Vlasic pickle if you can believe that. The recipe came from Paul in Kansas who posted the recipe on a forum that I frequent. So here is the recipe as Paul posted it.

Here's the pickle recipe that you asked for. It is a really good recipe. I only use sliced cucumbers for it.

Soak the following for 24 hours:
7 lb cucumbers
2 gallons water
2 cups lime
Rinse. Let set 3 hours draining.

Mix the following:
2 qts vinegar
4 ½ lbs sugar
1 T salt
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp cloves
Pour over cucumbers.
Let set 12 hours.

Bring to boil and simmer slowly for 40 minutes.

Pack in hot jars and seal.

(No pressure or hot water bath needed.

I hope you enjoy it. I know this recipe is at least 100 years old. It came from my great-grandmother that died in her 90's in 1944.
NE Kansas - 100% off-grid since May 1998.
Visit my blog at:
"Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without"
Yeah I know, I know it says to simmer them for 40 minutes and you are thinking this will make them soft. Well I am here to tell you it wont. I kept mine hot enough to see a few bubbles occasionally and they were like super crisp when I put them in jars. Just trust me and try em!
I went to the garden this evening and picked more PEPH peas and will get those shelled and canned tomorrow. It was cuke pickin day too so I started another batch of the pickles from the recipe above. Earlier today I tossed another bag of grapes in the freezer till I get time to make juice and jelly. Not much else happening here on the farm.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Little bits of this and that

I haven't got a lot done today, just bits of this and that. Slept in this morning and got a late start on the day. But I did need to take care of the pickles that I started last evening. They are sweet lime pickles. The gentleman who posted the recipe on a forum that I frequent says they don't get soft. Well I can see that they might not as they are like lil chunks of ice after sitting in lime water over night. They are in the pickling solution now and will be finished tomorrow morning. I will let ya know and get permission to post his recipe for ya here.
I had some tomatoes that needed to be made into something but not enough to warrant getting the squeezo strainer dirty, so I just cooked em after they were washed and cut up and made some quick juice. Just 2 quarts but that's a start. An ya know, every kitchen should have a food mill. Well I used to own one and wore it out and never bought another one. They are great for small batches of juice and such. It is a big job to get the squeezo strainer out and set it up to make 2 quarts of juice. I love my squeezo don't get me wrong. But it was too much for the task at hand today. So I went to Amazon and ordered me a food mill, a hand crank lil fellow that will make quick work of a few tomatoes at a time.That will beat all to heck trying to force tomato pulp thru a strainer. Ask me how I know!
I have been trying to get things out of my freezer that can be vacuum packed and stored in the cellar. Today I took all the shuck beans or leather britches as some folks call em out. Ran them for a bit in the dehydrator to get any moisture out and then vacuum sealed them for storage. Also have been doing the same thing with cornmeal. I have a pillowcase full of bags of frozen blackberries that I am going to thaw out and make into wine soon. Not real sure what is in the big freezer than can be moved, will find that out tomorrow.
Some of my grapes were getting ripe, which I thought was kinda early, so I cut those yesterday and put them in a zip top bag and toss them in the freezer till I have enough to make jelly and then I will use those. To me it is easier to freeze the grapes a few at a time than to make a big mess making juice to freeze a lil at a time.
Now what do ya do with ground cherries? Dunno, but I will find some use for em. I picked about a quart of em this evening. Will let ya know what I decide to make with em.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 19, 2010

More canning, less jars

I think today the harsh reality set in for me. I have been canning and making pickles and using jars that I had. Then it hit me, damn I ain't gonna have enough jars to even can tomatoes and green beans in if I don't stop or buy more jars.I just bought 10 more dozen pint jars this past week for canning corn and such. That doesn't include the other probably 10 dozen that I have bought in lots of 3 or 4 over the past couple months. So in my infinite wisdom (insert sarcasm here) I decided to count the jars that I still have empty to give me an idea of how many I need to buy. Well crap I don't have but about 150 empty quart jars. That may sound like a lot but I would like to have at least that many canned with green beans. So I am thinking I need to get at least another 10 dozen or so quarts at minimum. I am not done with pickles yet, not much more than started on corn, haven't canned any green beans so far. Well thas cause the beans are not ready yet. And still have yet to can the first tomatoes. Bottom line is I need a shitload more jars.
But with all that being said I made 3 more quarts of bread and butter pickles this evening and started some lime sweet pickles. I will let ya know how the lime ones turn out, this is the first time making them. I had some bread and butter pickle mix left after canning the cukes with it and I had a dishpan full of sliced onions. I like the sliced onions out of the bread and butter pickles so decided to make a few pints of just the sliced onions with the bread and butter flavored liquid. Those onions are the best on a burger, an I don't even like burgers.
I got the pink eye purple hull peas canned today that I shelled out last night while sitting in the summer kitchen waiting on the pressure canner to do its thing, finally ended all that nonsense at about 3 am this morning. The cellar is looking mighty fine about now.
My body needs some sleep and a lil rest so I can start over in the morning, so till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Canning stuff

We harvested a lot of stuff from the garden last evening and now I am trying to get it all canned today. I know I am going to be up till the wee hours getting it all done. I had to figure out a way to use some corn that was past its prime and decided veggie beef soup was the thing to do. I mixed up 2 big dish pans of it and got it in the jars to process. Had a total of 20 quarts. The canner will only hold 14 quarts at a time so did 14 first round and 6 in the second canning. I thought I needed to fill the canner up to process so I made 6 pints of meatloaf and 4 pints of beef roast and loaded the canner for round 2. As I type I still have 25 pints of carrots that will need to be processed before I can call it a night.

I am kinda anxious to try the meatloaf to see what it is like canned. If it meets my expectations I am thinking I might can more of it. I use ground beef or venison, onion, peppers, celery, egg, cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, and cheddar cheese in mine. Then pack it loosely in the straight pint jars and process as with any meat. Will post the do's and dont's when I try it.
Am off the get the canner reloaded with carrots. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

How many pickles does a person need?

Not sure how many pickles a family needs but I am sure that so far I am close to having more than enough.We made 13 more quarts of kosher dills tonight. We have been getting almost a 5 gallon bucket full every other day. I did get the remainder of my cabbage harvested this evening. Tomorrow I think I am going to use some of it in a soup mix. Maybe with corn, cabbage, onion, peppers, celery, and carrots. The guys pulled the rest of the carrots this evening as well and there is close to a bushel of them. Some will get used in the soup mix, some will be canned plain and maybe some frozen in chunks for stew later, some grated for use in meatloaf.
I got 9 quarts of pink eye purple hull peas canned today and when we were in the garden I picked another bushel. Well those will get shelled tomorrow as I have time. The tomatoes are starting to ripen more now.  We picked about a half a 5 gallon bucket of those too. So I got lots to do tomorrow. Am thinking maybe I need to get in bed a lil early tonight.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Playing catch-up

I feel like we have been playing catch-up as of late. The yard is way over grown with the rain. It is either to wet to mow or we don't have time with the garden harvest going on. So this evening we finally got the weed eating done and started mowing. We had a shower of rain today and the grass was wet under neath. So if we don't get more rain we finish the mowing and then head to the garden to harvest corn, cukes and probably carrots. The carrot tops have started to die back and once they do that they have a tendency to sprout and start new growth and get tough with the least bit of rain. The purple hull peas get canned in the morning and by the time I get them canned it will be time to pick again. Hopefully I will get to be home all next week and get a lot done as far as canning.
I took a friend to the big city today for her docs appointment and made a quick stop by the Liquor Barn. I did find some wine yeast that I was looking for to get some good blackberry wine started. Not sure if I want to try and fill my 6 gallon carboy or just make a small batch. I'm just having fun learning something new. Also the beer we started smells really good now. We are making a pale ale as our first batch of beer. It should be ready to drink in a couple more weeks. I think we are going to bottle it  and let it set for another few weeks. Maybe Labor day weekend would be a good time to try it out. We shall see.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Busy with garden stuff

We are finally getting really busy with the garden stuff. Early today I cut more herbs to dry. I got the marjoram and savory cut and it has dried already in the dehydrator. The chives now need to be clipped again and put in the freezer. In the big garden, the pink eye purple hull peas need to be picked every other day. We got another bushel from them this evening. Those will get shelled tomorrow and canned. We also picked almost a half bushel of cukes and made those into bread and butter pickles. I had some left over pickling liquid from the pickles tonight so I am thinking I will make several half pints of just onion slices canned with the same liquid. I love the flavor of the onions that are in the bread and butter pickles on a burger. And I do have a bunch of onions. Tomorrow evening I will likely clean up one of the patches of sweet corn and get it canned. I still have 2 more patches to go yet that should be ready in a week or so. I noticed tonight that the tops are dying over on the carrots so those will need to be pulled and canned as soon as possible. If I don't get them out of the ground they have a tendency to start growing new tops and this ruins the carrot and makes it woody and strong tasting.
The 2 new patches of young beans (tobacco worm and KY wonder bush) have come up and are growing like weeds. The tobacco worm beans will need to be trellised before they get too big or they will be crawling all over the place.The rains we had for a few days have done wonders for every thing in the garden. Hard to imagine with the heat so bad. I did notice too that the tater bugs have stopped eating on the few potato plants that we have left. So maybe we will get enough taters to make a meal. The bugs won again this year I think.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We got more rain, and mud

It has rained most all day, not really heavy rain but enough to soak you thru if you happen to go out. I had to take my buddy Gene to therapy today so I didn't plan much. He has been stuck at home since last week and just needed some different walls to look at, so he had his wife bring him here as she was going to orientation for a job. So he got to hang out and plunder around with me here on the place today. Then we went to his therapy and by the end of the day he was exhausted and so was I. After supper we went to the garden in the mud and picked cucumbers. Got enough to make 5 more quarts of kosher dill pickles. Those things need to be picked every other day so they don't get too big. Tomorrow we will be picking the pink eye purple hull peas again and shelling those to can. We have some of them for supper tonight and they are so so good. Am looking forward to lots of good peas and cornbread suppers this winter.
Not much else happening here on the farm today. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Shelling and canning Pink eye purple hulls

The weather was nice today and not too hot after the rain. Although it is supposed to get hotter as the week wears on. Well it is July. Yesterday evening we picked almost 3 full 5 gallon buckets of pink eye purple hull peas. Jason had one bucket at his house shelling them for me. I had the other 2. I went and got the ones he shelled today and did my 2 buckets. It does take a while to shell them but I don't think it takes as long as it does to string and break green beans. After supper I got back out in the summer kitchen and got all those canned up. They sure looked pretty in the jars. And gosh do they ever smell good. We are gonna have some for supper on Tuesday evening. Am thinking maybe we can just eat out of the garden for a while.

These peas are prolific this year. I have never grown them before and am just fascinated with them. They grow on top of the plant, so no digging under the vines to find the peas. And once you get a method down they are very easy to shell. The pink eye purple hull peas are in the Cow peas family, similar to a black eyed pea. These were recommended by a wonderful southern lady, my friend Deb. Thanks Deb, I am sure we will eat good this winter. So tomorrow its back to the garden rain or shine and see what else is ready. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

I learned something canning

As the old saying goes, ya never get too old to learn something. Some of our sweet corn was ready so Amoy and I went and picked most of it. This year I raised Golden Bantam which is classified as a normal sweet corn. In past years we have grown SE or sugar enhanced and SS which is super sweet varieties.  I decided this year to can most of my sweet corn to save on freezer space. When the sugar enhanced or super sweet sweet corn is canned, the length of time in the pressure canner caramelizes the sugars in the corn and makes it brownish in color. Where as the normal sweet corn varieties do not turn dark. I proved this fact to myself today when I canned some of the golden bantam from this year.

The jar on the left is the sugar enhanced sweet corn and the many on the right are the normal sweet corn. So for information sake, if ya don't want your corn to be dark if you choose to can it, then stick with a normal sweet corn. All the seed catalogs will tell you the difference. I did end up with 26 pints of canned corn today.
Another thing I learned today while picking this Golden Bantam corn. We usually order from R H Shumway which is kinda a commercial seed production company. As far as I am concerned they do not do very well with quality control on their seeds. As they mass produce both heirloom and hybrid varieties of seed, most of the open pollinated seeds that I have gotten from them is not consistent with the variety that I have ordered which tells me that they are cross pollinated.  Of all the ears of corn I picked today, maybe 2% of the ears even resemble the open pollinated Golden Bantam in characteristic. They say hind sight is 20/20, well I agree. I ordered white half runner beans from the same company and was not happy with the end result. The pods got tough before the bean inside developed which is not like white half runners. From now on I will only order from a reputable heirloom seed company or locate some good seed stock locally. OK I am off my soapbox now.
We went back to the garden late this evening and picked about a bushel of the pink eye purple hull peas. I guess it will be my job to shell those tomorrow. We did get enough cukes to make 4 quarts and 1 pint of kosher dill pickles. Also cut some more cabbage that I will work up tomorrow. The carrots are still in the ground, we did pull another half bushel or so of those. Amoy is taking some fresh veggies home with her. After all she has helped me all day with the picking and cleaning and canning of all this stuff. Jason took a bucket of purple hull peas home with him. So hopefully he sat on his porch and watched a movie on his computer and shelled peas. I can only hope.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nothing happenin, attending a wedding

We haven't done anything here on the farm today other than just making sure the critters had food and water and we just rested. We had a nice rain yesterday and decided to let the garden dry a bit before getting in there too much. I got all the jars wiped down from the canning yesterday and they are ready to go in the cellar. I will pick purple hull peas tomorrow and shell those for the freezer. And most likely have more cukes to make into pickles. We will try to get our potatoes dug this coming week. The vines have died back and they should be ready if we have any. We have had a big problem with potato bugs this year and I just hope they didn't do too much damage to the vines. We shall see.
We had a wedding this evening to attend. A second cousin was getting married. And another second cousin is getting married in 2 weeks. I don't mind attending, I just don't like dressing up. I am more jeans and tee-shirts. Rob is back in Nevada and couldn't attend but Amoy did get to come home and go with us. I think the rest of the evening will be spent just chilling out and trying to rest a bit so we can do some canning tomorrow.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Canning, we finally got rain

We finally got a good rain today. It rained some last night and a steady rain most of today. I'm sure this will make the garden grow. And the weeds as well. My new little beans really appreciated the rain. This should also make the late beets sprout as well as the melons that I planted late. Most of all I can appreciate the cooler temps. We had highs in the low 80's today, so nice to be out.
I managed to get some canning done as well. I had 10 lb of pinto beans soaked and got those canned up. I had 13 quarts and 11 pints when finished. Also finished up the blackberry syrup (6 pints and 3 half pints) to use for bedtime drinks in winter. I transferred my kraut that I had made from the red cabbage and got that in jars to store. It is rather tasty with the addition of caraway seed added to the cabbage before it was set to ferment. After supper we made 9 quarts of bread and butter pickles. Then 1 quart of whole baby dills. I had9 half pints of chopped dills to use in things that need chopped dill pickle. Just a convenience thing for me I guess.
I received my beer making kit in the mail today. This is gonna be fun. We got it set up to make a batch of beer. We should be able to enjoy this lil treat around labor day. I also got my wine making supplies today. Now this is something I am looking forward to. I am going to try to get some wine started tomorrow. Kinda excited about learning something new.

All the canned stuff should be ready to clean up and put in the cellar tomorrow and clear off my counter in the summer kitchen. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The cool is coming we hope

The cooler weather is headed our way we hope. It has been another one of those unbearable days with heat and humidity. If this winter is as cold as it has been hot we are in for a good one. I have stayed in most of the day. I just go out and feed the chickens and critters and come back in. I do check the meat birds several times a day to make sure they have plenty of water. It is getting pretty dry here. I noticed that some of the grass in the yard is turning brown from the heat and lack of rain. But rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow with temps dropping into the 80's. That will be such relief for us all here in the east.
Later this evening after the sun goes down a bit we are going to try and get some more metal fence post in to support the wire trellis that is supporting the grape vines. The vines are loaded with grape clusters and some of them have pulled the wire down to where the grapes are touching the ground. Well I am sure this would not have been as big a problem if we had gotten the grape vines pruned this spring, but that didn't happen and they are very thick. I have some metal T post that have the little nibs on the sides to support wire, an when those are drove into the ground very close to the now supporting wire I can just wire the trellis to the T post and have extra support.
The lettuce and cucumbers that I planted a week or so ago in the edge of the onion bed have all come up and look pretty good. I did put straw over the top of the seeds as soon as I sowed then, so I have lil plants coming up thru the straw which is good.
My herb bed is getting over grown and needs a lot of things cut back in there. I still yet have more herbs in there that need to be dried as well. The marjoram and savory are 2 that I can think of right off that need to be harvested and dried. Maybe I can do that this evening before we get rain or it gets too dark.
A while back when I made beet pickles one of my nice readers had ask for the recipe that I use for my beet pickles. I had not forgotten, I just kept forgetting to bring my idiot book in from the summer kitchen that had the recipe in it. So for the farm girl and any others that wish to know, here is my method. Do keep in mind that this is my way of doing beets, and the USDA would have kittens if they knew I didn't water bath pickles. But rest assured the beets have enough acid from the vinegar to preserve them just fine. So enjoy.

Beet Pickles

3 quarts of beets, cooked, peeled and sliced to you liking

Pickling solution:
2 cups of cane sugar
3 1/2 cups of vinegar
1 1/2 cups of water

Bring this liquid to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes. Have the beets cooked, peeled and sliced as you like and in the jars. Pour this boiling liquid over the beets in the jars and seal with hot lids and bands. This amount of liquid will cover about 3 quarts of beets, so multiply as needed for the amount of beets you have. And if you like your beet pickles a lil spicier just add a cinnamon stick or 3 to the liquid while it is heating and remove before pouring over pickles. The USDA guidelines say to water bath both pints and quarts for 30 minutes in a water bath. Do this at your discretion. Although I do not water bath any pickles. They are ready to eat in a few days.

So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Its hot, pickin berries, plantin things

It has been too hot even for me today. I went out long enough to take care of the blackberries that we picked last evening. Put 6quarts in the freezer, started some blackberry syrup and made some juice. I picked cucumbers last evening as well and we made 3 quarts and 3 pints of bread and butter pickles. We do have several tomatoes ripe now, at least we can have enough to eat on.
I have been out several times today checking on the chickens and making sure they had water. They have done OK so far although they get really hot about mid-day. The chickens will be where it is really cool in about another week and a half. They will be in the freezer.
I had a bright idea today and decided to order a home brewers kit for making beer and some wine making equipment. I should be set in a few weeks when this arrives. It will make the process easier to care for and make consistent quality wine. My personal preference is a good Merlot. This is something I have always wanted to be able to do really well. And this is why I keep picking berries and fighting the chiggers.
We went around to Jason's house this evening and picked the blackberries that were behind the old corn crib. They were really nice big juicy berries. I froze those this evening to make wine later on when I have more time. I am pretty sure I have enough blackberry jam canned and blackberries for cobbler to last a few years. I likely will be making more blackberry syrup to use for non-alcoholic drinks as well. It does make a good bedtime drink in winter.
Our sweet corn is almost ready and in a normal season we have a problem with crows eating it all before it gets completely ready. The year we had deer net fence around the perimeter of our garden, the crows did not get one ear. They sat in trees nearby and hollered. They are afraid of getting into a trap. So we decided to take some of the deer netting and cut it into long pieces and toss it over the tops of the stalks of corn around the perimeter of the corn patch to see if this also deters them. If it works, after this little patch of corn is done the net will be taken down and moved to the next area that will be coming on until all the corn is harvested.
While we were in the garden I had Rodger plow up a place for me to plant some more Kentucky wonder bush beans. The ground is warm and the bean seed came from the freezer so I hope they will be up in a few days. We should have pink eye purple hull peas ready maybe this weekend. Cant wait to have a mess of those.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Sleeping, doing nothing, an taking pics

Well after all it is a holiday. And I have done nothing today. Well I guess I did too, I watched Rodger cut a vent in the back end of the chicken house. It does help to keep the heat down in the brooder house for the birds. The rest of the day consisted of lots of naps. Which I guess my body needed. Then late I went to the garden and took some pics of the garden stuff.

Driving into the field, this corn is huge. It is open pollinated that we use for corn meal in the fall after it dries.

The squash and melons are growing and look good, an they have lots of blooms, so we should have fruits.

This is a row of carrots waiting to be harvested and canned, dried and made into carrot cake.

These are pink eye purple hull peas (cow peas) that I am growing for the first time. my friend Deb from Mississippi sent me the seed. This is a southern crop but looks like it will do great this far north.

I have never seen anything like this before. These should be really easy to pick, now shelling, not so easy.

Our tomatoes look great and are loaded with bloom and little tomatoes. Hope for a good crop this year.

These are heirloom Tobacco worm beans. Just planted last week and with no rain they still come up really good. They will need to be trellised tho.

On the way out of the field I took a pic of the Kentucky wonder bush beans near the Boone County White corn that we use for cornmeal and for animal feed. The beans will be a little later as they were planted late. I am sure they would grow quicker if we had a little bit of rain. But it is just supposed to be extremely hot all this week in the high 90's with no rain till the weekend and then only a possible shower. Now this is typical July weather, hot and humid.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Holiday celebration, canning

I hope everyone has had a nice holiday weekend and came thru all safe and sound. We had a nice relaxing weekend here. Rob came home from Nevada on Friday and on Saturday he and Amoy came home. Jason's buddy Josh and another friend Joe came down and spent the night. Anytime you get those guys together you can bet there will be fire works of some kind. They spent most of the afternoon shooting and having fun.

And sometimes they even let us girls play with em.

It was hot out all weekend but we were lucky enough to have shade where we have target stands for shooting. Later in the afternoon they guys shot skeet for a while. I think they got tired of shooting stuff so we all came back to the house an ate, drank and just chilled out and tried to keep cool.

Today we got in the garden and picked some cucumbers and pulled some of the carrots. I made 3 quarts and 3 pints of kosher dill slices and canned 19 pints of glazed sliced carrots. I had about 4 cukes that were too big for slices and I like to use chopped dill pickle in different things. So I chopped the big cukes really fine and canned them with the same dill pickle solution that I used in the slices. Now I have chopped dills when I want them without the hassle of chopping. That was enough for one day. Now I am tired. Yesterday before the kids got here I got 10 more pints of blackberry jam, 6 quarts of canned black berries and some blackberry syrup. I might go out tomorrow evening and pick more to make juice, syrup and wine. We shall see. Till next time blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blackberry syrup

We had picked about 3 gallon of wild blackberries last evening and I decided to make some syrup to use for drinks. So here are the instructions. Easy enough. Enjoy and blessings from the McGuire homestead.

Blackberry Syrup

1 lb Blackberries
2 pt White wine vinegar
2 lb Sugar
4 oz Honey

Place the blackberries in a glass or china bowl and pour the vinegar over. Leave to stand for at least 24 hours, stirring and pressing the fruit regularly, to extract the juices. Strain the liquid into a large saucepan or small preserving pan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar, stirring until it is all dissolved, then add the honey, stirring well. Bring back to the boil and boil hard for 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Originally this syrup was bottled and stored, one tablespoon being added to a glass of hot water to form a bedtime drink. However, the syrup can easily be frozen in ice-cube trays and then stored in bags in the freezer to be used when required.

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