Tag Archives: preserving

slow living – October

October went by quickly, but I am happy that it has been the start of the slow season for us. Once we get all of the vehicles that have been dropped off in the storage yard put away and our place starts looking more like home again and less like a used boat and trailer dealership, we will start to settle down for the winter and enjoy the quiet.

I’m following the example at Slow Living Essentials again this month, and using her categories to summarize my month and list some things I’d like to accomplish.

{Nourish}:

We’ve been eating too well around here lately. Which means that we should probably try eating lighter, especially since I put on my protective layer of winter fat early this year. Like, in May (I know, I just said like. I’ve been spending too much time around tween girls. I used to have perfect grammar – similar to perfect pitch, but without the talent. Now I talk in sentence fragments. A lot.).

I wrote about Pumpkin Granola, Pumpkin Pie Muffins, Apple Pie Spice, (Almost) Buttermilk Drop Biscuits, and some Halloween Chocolate Spiders to make for a sweet Halloween treat.

{Prepare}:

I spent a weekend this month doing some advance cooking for hockey nights and stocked the freezer with bags of hamburger cooked with onion, carrot, zucchini, green pepper and garlic. They make it easy to make a quick meal of nachos, spaghetti or baked pasta – only a little extra assembly required. We even like the hamburger as a pizza topping on occasion. I also made some soups and chili to fill up the freezer. The only problem with doing the advance work is now I feel like I need a good excuse to raid my stash. I want to hoard it – and the husband has to provide a suitably hamburger worthy reason to take some from the freezer.

I managed to cut the last of the jalapeños in half and put them in the freezer until I can manage do something with them. I’d like to make some Louisiana style hot sauce, but I kinda came down with making-things-with-stuff-from-the-garden fatigue halfway through the month and just gave up. That also led to the rotting of several cabbages from the garden. I feel guilty, but I’ll work through it.

Fortunately, the rest of the pumpkin and squash can wait until I have time to do something with them.

Before I hit the garden produce wall, I wrote instructions for making and canning some easy applesauce and an easy way to roast and puree pumpkins, plus some pumpkin pie spice to use with the puree.

{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

We had plans for a new efficient furnace for this month, but we are at the mercy of the furnace man (who hasn’t shown up yet), so I guess it will be put off until next month. Not much else has been done along those lines, but then, nothing really was needed. We weren’t in need of anything new, and things continue to be used and re-used around here.

{Green}:

This is where I am supposed to write about any new green practices, cleaners or health and beauty products that I have made this month. I continue to use laundry powder that I made (though I also used store-bought when I ran out) and I attempted that cleaner that people seem to be making by leaving orange peels in vinegar for a few weeks, but the smell of it put me off so much that I’d rather just use plain vinegar.

I did make a cinnamon, orange and brown sugar body scrub. I’d like to make some other scrubs that would be suitable for Christmas gifts, but don’t require any refrigeration. Maybe in November.

{Grow}:

We’ve harvested cabbage, red jalapeno peppers, the last of the tomatoes and the pumpkins and squash this month. I also managed to use the last of the basil just after the frost hit. One part of the plant remained green, so we picked the rest of it and enjoyed it in a baked rigatoni and again in some tomato basil pesto for on top of pizza. The garden is now pulled up and plowed under. Whew.

{Create}:

I’m still working on the sweater for the tall kid. Actually, no I’m not. It’s gathering dust in my basket at the moment, but I did finish a cowl to keep me warm this winter, and I am currently working on my first ever pair of socks.

{Discover}:

I’ve been doing a bit more reading this month, though I didn’t take any photos this time around. I’m currently browsing through the Ina Garten Back to Basics cookbook that a co-worker thought I might like. I’ve got a bunch of sticky notes marking pages to try.

{Enhance – community}:

The dad continues to volunteer as a hockey coach and as a member of the local Ducks Unlimited committee. We continue to purchase locally when we have the opportunity – some apples and a pumpkin from a local orchard (yes, I know that we grew pumpkins, but none were big enough to carve).


{Enjoy}:

We’ve had some time to visit with friends this month, we had Thanksgiving over at my in-law’s farm with the city cousins and we’ve spent a couple of weekends with the girl’s friends here on sleep-overs.

This time of year is busy for our boat/RV/trailer storage business, so someone is constantly at the door or calling about drop-off times. Once the dad gets it all put away for the winter, we will be able to settle down and enjoy the peace once again. I’m looking forward to a little bit of hibernation.

Another busy, but interesting month.

Linked to GNOWFGLINS, FOY Update, Frugally Sustainable

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slow living – september

I’m not sure what we did slowly this month – it went by so fast it blurred. September is always more like the start of the year for us; everything begins at the same time and none of it feels particularly slow. The beginning of the school year was the biggest event.

I’m following the example at Slow Living Essentials again this month, and using her categories to summarize my month and list some things I’d like to accomplish.

{Nourish}:

This has been a month of rushed meals as we try to adjust to hockey practice on two nights a week. Meals are simple, quick and easy. Occasionally we even eat at the arena, but next month I would like to do some advance cooking to avoid that bellyache. There is not much you can say about food cooked in a hockey arena. Their high-end menu item is sugar coated donut holes called Beaver Balls. Yep, you read it right.

I wrote about trying a kohlrabi slaw and a honey lemon ginger tea mix that is nice for colds and sore throats (or even just mixed into a normal cup of tea for a pleasant drink on a cold evening).

{Prepare}:

We tried hard to keep up with the last of the garden this month, continuing to freeze tomato sauce – roasted, passata and marinara. And then I gave up and froze a bunch of tomatoes whole, gave some more away and let the rest just go. I just can’t look at another tomato and want to do something with it. We’ve also made fermented jalapeno hot sauce, hot pepper jelly, roasted red peppers and caramelized onions that we put in the freezer.

We braided onions from the garden to store them longer term over the winter, froze a mountain of beans and cut up and froze more peppers. Our freezers are pretty much full.

{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

There was a lot of reducing going on this month. Unfortunately most of it had to do with our bank balances. New school shoes, school supplies, piano lessons, hockey equipment and hockey fees. Ouch. We did manage to find most of the equipment that we needed at a used sports store – otherwise the impact would have been much worse. We are able to take the outgrown equipment in on trade to offset the cost of new (used) equipment. And when you consider that every inch of their bodies are padded to play hockey, that is a lot of equipment.

{Green}:

I made a natural essential oil febreeze-type spray to deal with some leftover onion cooking smells in the house and attempt to tame the monster smell in the hockey equipment bags. We’ll see how that goes. Those bags really do have a life of their own. The tall kid won’t let me wash anything – it might spoil her team’s current winning streak. If you can call 3 games a winning streak.

{Grow}:

The tall kid grew half an inch this month. My 11-year-old looks down at me, and I’m 5’6″. It must be something in the tomatoes.

We’ve harvested beans, tomatoes, pumpkin, kohlrabi, squash and potatoes. We missed the boat on the cabbages; same as the broccoli, we didn’t pay any attention for a few days and they split and turned brown. Apparently they can’t wait like I thought they could.

{Create}:

I’m still working on the sweater for the tall kid. I haven’t picked it up much this month, but have at least finished the torso and have started on a sleeve. I hadn’t thought about this when I started knitting with a patterned yarn – but the pattern repeats slower in the body than it will in the arms – will this make it look odd when it’s finished? Should I quit now?

{Discover}:

I read a couple of books this month and picked up a few more that I’ve been flipping through. My book club has started up again, but I’ve decided to give it a pass for this year. We are already out of the house several nights a week and I am looking for an excuse to uncomplicate my life.

{Enhance – community}:

The dad has taken on the bulk of this category this month. He is co-coaching the tall kid’s Peewee hockey team and is volunteering once again with Ducks Unlimited.

{Enjoy}:

We’ve been enjoying the company of friends and family again this month. Even with the busy-ness of school and sports, we’ve managed to fit in some visiting and dinners with company.

We attended my brother’s wedding just this past weekend. It was a beautiful day and a lovely wedding in a conservation area setting. The girls had a blast feeding birds out of their hands on the hiking trails, then schooling a bunch of grown ups on the dance floor afterwards.

We had a death in the family this month – not something that would normally go in the enjoy category, but he was young, fun to be around and my husband, his mom and his sister were able to enjoy a visit with him a few weeks before his death. He is missed, but will be well remembered.

Another busy, alternately happy and sad, but interesting month.

Linked to Frugally Sustainable, GNOWFGLINS

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what to do with all of those pretty red jalapenos from the garden – hot red pepper jelly

It has been both a quiet and frantic week around my house. With the dark arriving early and staying later in the mornings and school and hockey starting, we are all adjusting to new routines and entering seasonal slow-down. Nights are quieter when we are actually at home (though possibly a little more frenzy would be helpful to get things done). The small squeaky kid is now practicing with a league hockey team (as is the tall kid) as well as her Initiation Program group, so that has meant 3 days of hockey every week for us. Add in caring for the animals at night, practicing piano and homework, and we have a new busy-ness to get used to.

I had a few people ask about the recipe for the pepper jelly, so here is my version. I have lots of jalapenos turning red in the garden, so I thought I’d give this a try this year. My grandma used to make this jelly and I always loved it. I used this recipe, but made a few of my own adjustments. I didn’t use as much pepper as the original recipe called for – I wanted mine to be more jelly-like, the original called for so much pepper that it would have been more of a jam. You can judge the heat of the jalapenos and use the amount that suits your level of heat. Last year I would have used all 6 peppers that are called for in the recipe – this year I used 3 because they are much hotter. You can also use green jalapenos, I just used red to keep everything pretty and red.

The resulting jelly is really nice on crackers with some cream cheese or brie – we’ve been enjoying it at work this week. I am also looking forward to trying it on a grilled cheese made with aged cheddar and as a stir fry sauce with veggies and chicken or pork.

 Hot Red Pepper Jelly (makes 6 half pint jars)

  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, finely minced (~ 1 cup)
  • 3-6 red jalapeño peppers, seeded finely minced (depending on heat of peppers)
  • 1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp butter
  • 6-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 pouch fruit pectin (I use Certo powdered pectin)

Wash and sterilize your jars and lids. I do mine in the dishwasher on the extra heat setting and don’t start the jelly making process until it has hit the drying stage – that way I know the jars and lids will be hot when I need them.

Have a canning pot ready at a boil to process the jars after they are filled. The water should be deep enough to cover the jars by at least an inch. You can use a canning rack or just a towel on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from rattling.

Throw the seeded red peppers and jalapenos into a food processor or finely mince by hand. Use gloves to seed the jalapenos so you don’t get oil on your hands or it will burn. If you are using the food processor, open a window – you’ll thank me later. Breathing in the oil hurts, too.

I drain off the extra juice from the food processor before I put the peppers into to sauce pan. The extra juice could inhibit the gelling process. Put the minced pepper in a sauce pot and add vinegar and butter. Stir in sugar and bring to full rolling boil, stirring constantly. I let it boil for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. This part is kind of tricky. If it still looks runny at this stage, let it boil a titch longer until it starts to thicken. You don’t want it completely thickened at this point though – it really starts to gel as it cools after processing.

Ladle immediately into the sterilized jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the tops. Wipe the jar rims and threads and add the lids, screw bands on finger tight but not over tight. Place jars in canner (use tongs) and boil for 10 min. Remove the jars and place upright on towel or rack to cool completely. You should be able to hear the lids pinging as they seal. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. If any lids don’t seal, you can either refrigerate that jar or open, re-seal and reprocess it for 10 minutes.

And this is for my husband – do NOT be tempted to jiggle the jars to see if they are setting. They need to sit still in order to gel. Leave them alone for at least 24 hours. If they don’t set up, there are instructions here to redo the recipe – or you can use it as a glaze on meats, vegetables and stirfry.

Linked to Frugally Sustainable, Gastronomical Sovereignty, GNOWFGLINS

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