Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Making Stew Vs Buying at the Store

I was wondering if it was economical for me to make and pressure can my own stew or buy it at the store. First thing I did was take in mind that I feed 2 adults, 1 teenager, 2 under 10 and a baby every night. So I like things cheap. Second is, I like it healthy and to me when I look at a label on a can I like it to say things I can pronounce. Not to mention what was the can coated with? I know some canning lids contain BPA, but when I look at the entire can vs the lid being coated in it I choose the latter. I was going on a normal grocery store run yesterday and found meat on sale. I got some, and a light went off in my head. What if I could make a quick and easy meal for us when school and scouts start and things get crazy around here. I scounged around in my recipe books until I found this recipe. I also looked around and realized I already had some things at home. Like salt, thyme, pepper and onions from the garden. I went back to the store to get the rest and I wrote down prices so I could compare. Here is the break down of the food:
Meat      $11.00
Potato     $ 1.88
Celery    $ 1.39
Carrots   $ 1.98
Onions   $ 1.19lb (I got the price to show you)
Jars         $ 9.00 (This is a guess)
I didn't add in the seasoning, because thats getting a little crazy. The jars come in 12 packs so I divided that and it comes up to about $.75 a jar. When I made this I actually got 9 quarts instead of 7, this may not happen for everyone. This takes my total to $23.00 for 9 quarts of beef stew or $2.56 each. If you needed to add onions that would be $24.19 or $2.69 each, if your onions only weigh a pound and you get 9 quarts. When you look at whats in the store most come in 16 oz. sizes which is a 1/2 quart. I looked on amazon for Dinty Moore Beef Stew and it is a 15 oz. can for $2.95 each. I haven't looked in local stores yet. To make one quart of Dinty Moore it would take slightly over two cans of it, I will just use two for this purpose. It would cost $5.90 for two cans of theirs and $2.56 for a quart of mine. Yes it cost time for me, but I like doing stuff like that. I also like to show off stuff I make, call me vain its ok. I looked on amazon for the price of jars and its way higher than what I can find locally. Im sticking with my $9.00 for right now, next time I go to the store Ill get the correct price for yall. All in all it was so worth it for me to make this and Im going to start making more stuff like this. Would it be economical for you to can stew?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fresh Apple Cake

This recipe comes from a cook book my Mom got at a garage sale for me years ago. The book was made in the 50's in Dallas, Tx.  I wish I had the name of the book, but it ripped off long ago and got lost. This recipe also goes well with pears.
Fresh Apple Cake
3 cups apples, chopped fine
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup wesson oil
3 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, more if you like a lot of nuts
Cover chopped apples with sugar and let stand 20 minutes. In a large mixing bowl mix eggs and oil thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with apple mixture. Add vanilla and nuts and mix thoroughly. Batter will be thick. Pour into greased and floured tube cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for one hour or until well done. Remove from pan immediately. Really a delicious cake which keeps well as it is a moist cake.
 Lorena Peterson

Monday, June 18, 2012

Justin Wilson's Pickled Okra

I don't know how many of ya'll remember Justin Wilson. He was a great chef and had a tv show for some time. My Mom has his recipe book and every Thanksgiving it is our custom to make his turkey gumbo with the turkey. That book is awesome and my favorite pickled okra recipe is in it too. Again, It doesn't contain exact processing times, but it makes the best pickled okra.
Justin Wilson's Pickled Okra
20 fresh small okra (or as many as needed)
1 tsp salt per quart jar or 1/2 tsp salt per pint jar
4 hot peppers, whole or chopped
1 clove of garlic, cut in 8 pieces
3 parts white vinegar
1 part water
Put okra into two sterilized jars, add salt, hot peppers, and 3 or 4 pieces of garlic, depending on how much you like garlic. In a medium sized sauce pan mix the vinegar and water together, then heat slowly. Don't bring to a boil. Stir the liquid with your finger, when it gets too hot to keep your finger in its ready. Pour into jars, making sure to cover the okra completely and seal with sterilize lids, following the manufacturer's directions. Let set for one or two weeks before using.
For us i can it in pint jars, so I know we use it all before it goes bad. I process it in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes. I also wait two weeks before using, which is very hard sometimes. Also I cut a slit in my peppers, at least two per pepper down the sides, instead of chopping them. Just in case you have never watched his show, here is an episode.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Older Canning and Cooking Recipes

I have several books with older canning recipes in them and recipes for cooking. I am going to start sharing them with you. Keep in mind that sometimes they didn't add processing times and I may not know them. You can look up processing times in various places online. Here is one place that seems to have some good info. This one has some great pictures. If you are concerned about processing it you can always keep it in the fridge and use it soon. Also note that older recipes don't state to prepare the fruit or vegetable, like peeling, deseeding and such. If I catch it I will add it in. Here is the first recipe:
Pickled Sweet Peppers
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
Boil these items. Cut peppers up into strips and have jars washed and dry. Put 2 garlic cloves and 1 jalepeno in each jar. Pack sweet peppers in jars and pour cooled liquid in it. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in each jar and seal up. Process for 10 minutes in a water canner. (Ball book states to pressure can bell peppers.)

Monday, June 4, 2012


Mulching is like gardening, its as easy and as cheap as you make it. You don't have to spend a lot of money to mulch or grow things. But its very easy to spend money on things you think you need. I tend to go the cheap route, I look around the house for things I have that might work. Newspaper is one of my main things. I also have an abundance of homework and cute little drawings my boys bring home. They really like to shred these and I store them until needed, just don't use anything glossy. The same goes for the newspaper, don't use glossy paper. I also use cardboard, again stay away from glossy. Why not use the glossy paper? It releases toxins into the ground as it decomposes. I also use straw or hay, you really do have to be careful here and make sure they didn't treat it with pesticides or herbicides. That would suck to have a beautiful garden and mulch it only to watch it die. So a quick run down of what I use in our garden.
On Bottom:
1. Non-glossy newspaper
2. Cardboard
On Top:
3. Hay or straw
4. Shredded paper
Using Newspaper
To make it weed free longer you need to use thicker stuff. I use newspaper six pages thick and over lapped, then I cover it with shredded paper or hay to hold it down. (Note, if doing the mulching on a windy day you will have this stuff all over your yard. I know trust me.) When going around the plants I rip good size tears in the paper so it can get close, but not damage the plant.
Be careful around plants

I forgot to mention I run a soaker hose under the newspaper when I make it this thick. It tends to block rain from getting through for a while too. Of course I didn't think to take a picture of this. If you don't have a soaker hose make a ring of dirt about 3 to 4 inches away from and around the plant, and do not cover this up with newspaper. Instead water the plant in this "water holder", it acts like a bowl to hold and collect the water. You can put hay or shredded paper in it for some weed protection. 
 Shredded paper around Horehound, see the holes where weeds have gotten through?
Using Cardboard
I use cardboard for walkways or for around runner plants, like cucumbers and watermelons. I also use it around squash plants to help with weeds. Basically anything that is a spreading plant and needs room weed free I use cardboard. I never put it up directly at the base though because it blocks water. It is perfect for walkways and areas you don't want weeds. I don't get to use it much since I have a small garden at home, but I do get to use it at the cub scout garden and it works great.
Topping it off
 When you get the newspaper or cardboard down wet it well. This helps hold it down and even in a little wind this is very helpful. Then I put my topping on, the shredded paper or hay/straw. When I get this done I wet it again, that stuff likes to blow away even more than the newspaper. I also continue to wet it down a couple of time a week until it sticks to itself. It normally takes a few weeks for this to happen. After that few weeks and things sticking together, you might notice a few holes in your system. Mostly because you will see a few weeds.
Straw that has been patched with shredded paper. It looks weedy, but some of it is garlic.
Also note the soaker hose end, don't forget to leave an access point.
 Don't worry though, its an easy fix. I cut or pull out the weed, fix the hole by moving around the newspaper, or add more, and recover with more top mulch. Rewet again as needed in new spots. This usually works well into the summer, until the garden is so big and its so hot that it looks like a jungle. That's about when the mulch is really decomposed by weather and bugs. You will notice a lot of bug life if you peek under the paper. This method is also how I put my garden to bed in the fall. At least that's what I call it. Only I don't leave a soaker hose under it and there are no plants. It encourages worms to stick around and lets them go higher in the soil than if they were out in the yard normally. I even throw some scraps under there sometimes, just in case the worms get hungry. You can leave this down until decomposed and turn it under in the spring, it doesn't hurt. I always notice a darker, richer soil when I keep it on and turn it under the next planting season. Once again I will say you can never be too careful about the hay or straw, where ever you buy it make sure and ask if pesticides or herbicides where used. If you can't afford news papers ask your friends or neighbors what they do with their old ones. Its a great way to recycle. I also look for cardboard at places of business, they are happy to get rid of it. How do you mulch?