Thursday, July 28, 2016

Green Beans and New Potatoes

This time of year is the perfect time to cook up a big pot of fresh green beans. You don't want to can all of them and then wait to enjoy the bounty from your garden! The other day I had just finished packing the last 13 quarts of beans for the year. I could have filled several more jars but I thought, "What's the point in not cooking some for Momma's Supper Night?" An elderly neighbor up the road who likes to drop in to sit in the shade and visit with Andy had just dropped off a bag with goodies from his garden. Inside I found some new red potatoes and I knew what would be on the menu. I cooked a roast in the crock pot and served green beans with new potatoes, fresh squash and sliced tomatoes out of the garden. Talk about a feast! Needless to say, we all enjoyed it tremendously and sent Momma home with enough for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chicken Spaghetti

This morning Andy was telling me about a dish he wanted to try: Chicken Spaghetti. My friend Shirley shared this recipe with me over two years ago. It had been so long ago, he had forgotten I had already fixed it for him. Keep in mind, this was before we started cutting back on our carb consumption. The only thing I had not done was get it posted on the blog. Now that we have our portion sizes under control, I might be able to fix it again.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Have You Burped Lately?

Before you say, "gross" or think I've lost my mind, I'm talking about Tupperware for goodness sakes! (You had to "burp" the product for the air-tight seal.) Recently I had a nice visit with my friend Claudia and her husband Danny. They have blessed me with an abundance of peaches this summer and her cousin Ann allowed us to dive into her herb garden. The peaches are frozen and the I have dried lemon basil, basil, dill and lemon verbena. It smelled heavenly while the basil was drying. The fragrant herb made me want to start a pot of spaghetti sauce.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

'Mater Sandwich

Now I know there will be a few disagreements with my version of making a Tomato ('Mater) Sandwich. That's fine, you are free to use light (white) bread and Miracle Whip and I'll keep on with what I like best. There was a time a fresh loaf of white bread, a homegrown tomato and a jar of Hellman's mayonnaise was the only way to make one, but I've sworn off white bread and switched to wheat decades ago. Now, using a store-bought---NOT HOMEGROWN--tomato. Please, just don't go there. The only time to eat a tomato sandwich is in the summer, around July. No garden? Go to the farmer's market and get one. There is a difference.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Refrigerator Referees

 Do you know how many bottles of cocktail sauce are in the refrigerator?

How many times have you been hit with a question like this. And no, it's not a rhetorical question. You are truly expected to answer it. Gosh, I've always hated pop quizes.

I was asked this not once, but two evenings in a row recently. Of course I didn't know the answer. Why? Because I'm not a counter of things.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Home Made Cherry Jam

One of my favorite jams is cherry jam. One of my least favorite to prepare is cherry jam. Maybe that's why it's so good? Cherry jam requires pitting the cherries. Not fun. We have a couple of cherry trees so in addition to making cherry wine, I make cherry jam with the left over cherries.

Because jam and jelly making is such a quick process, I don't always have step-by-step pictures. However, I had a helper on hand to get a few shots for me. I will break down the steps from the Sure-Jell pectin I use. The directions are not on the same side of the sheet so it's a little confusing. I have always had success using this product and when it comes to canning, I'm looking for easy, safe and consistent results. Who wants to spend a lot of time and have poor results?

I cannot stress enough how careful you need to be. The mixture will be very hot and you are dealing with boiling water. Be sure you don't have any kiddos underfoot when you are doing this.

DIRECTIONS:
Sterilize your jars (I do mine in the dishwasher), lids and rings (I boil these in a pot of water on the stove).
Get out your canning tongs to pull the jars from the pot; canning funnel and the magnetized tool to pull your lids and rings from the hot water and a clean cloth to wipe the jars down prior to sealing them.
I set my canner on the stove and set the rack in the pot raised for easy access and fill with water so that when the jars/rack are submerged, the jars will have one to two inches of water above them. (You can always add more boiling water if needed) I put the lid on the pot and turn the heat on high.
I use my food processor and pulse until I get the right consistency.
Measure out 4 cups of finely chopped cherries. (Around 3 pounds of tart cherries)
In another bowl, measure 4-3/4 cups of sugar (regular, not artificial) and set to the side.
In a large pot, on high, add the cherries and stir in one box of Sure-Jell. Stir constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming. Bring this mixture to a boil.
Add in the  sugar. Bring it back to a full boil and let it cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Remove any foam with a spooon. This will be very hot! Put the excess foam in one of your used bowls to discard later.

Using a ladle, pour up the mixture into the jars through your canning funnel and leave 1/4" head space. Wipe the jar top and sides before placing a lid and ring on them.

Space the filled jars around the raised up rack. When all jars are filled, carefully lower the rack into the water. Add additional boiling water, if needed, so that the jars are adequately covered. Put the lid back on the pot, bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. (Jelly is 5 minutes, Jam is 10 minutes)

When that time is up, turn off heat and carefully remove the pot from the stove eye. When removing the lid (with a pot holder), be careful of the steam that will be released!! I remove my lid with it pointed away from my face.

Fold up a towel and place on your counter.

With my canning tongs, I carefully move my jars to the towel to cool. If any of the jars didn't seal, be sure to refrigerate and consume first. If you don't hear equal "pings" for the quantity of jars processed and the lid springs back when you poke the middle of the jar, it didn't seal correctly. 24 hours later, I move them to the box my jars came in, mark the date on them and store them.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Great Tomato Debate

Is is just me, or do you find yourself drifting away, lost in your thoughts when you are out in the garden?

I tend to find myself thinking about everything under the sun from things I have no control over; solutions to solve the world's problems and what I'd do to the deer who keep knocking the tomatoes off the vines (fried green tomatoes tonight) and munching on all the cucumber and sweet potato foliage.

The other day I thought about the tomatoes I was picking. Refrigerate or leave on the counter? Well, I knew the answer to that one. I don't know where I got the opinion regarding where one stores their tomatoes; but I have a very strong one. My personal belief is that they are to be stored on the counter and eaten room temperature. I think they taste better. The only time I would waver on this is if I prepare a salad ahead of the meal. Then, and only then, it would be acceptable to refrigerate them. Left over tomatoes after grilling hamburgers? As if!! Just get out the salt shaker and eat them up! There should be no such thing as a left over tomato sent to a cold death in the fridge.

I remember a cook-out we were having at work years ago and someone put the tomatoes in the refrigerator. As a matter of fact, that someone was about as adamant as them being stored there as I was about them not. Thankfully, I'm a go along type of person who believes you can respect opinions of others. Just agree to disagree and leave the tomatoes off your burger.

Am I right or wrong?

Next topics up for debate...Peel or don't peel a tomato when making a "mater sandwich" and Miracle Whip or Hellman's mayonnaise?

Home Made Raspberry Jam


Our spring/summer raspberry harvest from Andy's vines have been unbelievable this year! I froze over 17 lbs. and that didn't include what I set aside to make raspberry jelly and jam. Last Saturday was green bean and jam day so I was pretty busy.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Home Made Cherry Jelly

You will probably feel like you're a member of the jelly of the month...or should I say, day...club. I'm finally caught up on getting around to posting about all the different jellies and jams I've been making and since this is the season, I'm getting them all in.

Reduced Sugar Red Raspberry Jelly

I've made several different jams and jellies this week. Some regular sugar and some reduced sugar. The basic steps are the same, so you'll see some repetition, but there are some differences in amount of fruit/juice/sugar needed!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Today's Rambling...Click Bait

I just have to rant on about something. Tell me, does this bother you too or is it just me?

You're scrolling through your favorite social media and you see an enticing article that has the most tempting headline or comment and it's all you can do to NOT CLICK THAT LINK. Your finger hovers over the mouse or your touch screen and you waver. You know it's coming. It's killing you because you're really, really dying to know how the ridges on your finger nails will determine if you will live to see another day; if your vocabulary score (or IQ) will exceed that of your best friend's with a simple little test; or best yet, how your choice of alcohol will tell you which continent your ancestors hailed from.

Reduced Sugar Cooked Peach Jam

My friends Danny and Claudia were kind and generous to share a huge bucket of peaches they raise at Rose Hill Farm. I got all of them peeled, pitted and chopped for several different uses. I'm seeing peach cobbler and fried pies in our future in addition to some delicious peach jam.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dehydrating Onions

I spent last Saturday in tears. Seriously! I had a small bucket of onions from the garden and the word small didn't apply to the size of the bucket only. I pulled out what we would use for slicing and decided to try my hand at dehydrating the rest. I had great success at dehyrating part of my massive harvest of Roma tomatoes a few years ago and Andy's made enough jerky to almost fill up a grandkid or two, but I've never tried onions.

Monday, July 11, 2016

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation...


...or Why I Checked Out of the Nine to Five

I'm not sick.
I'm burned out.

For the first time in my adult life, I am not getting up and showing up for a job in the public sector.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tennessee Caviar

An alternative to Texas Caviar, my Tennessee version makes use of the fresh cherry tomatoes and onions we have in abundance in the summer. I also substitute the bottle of Zesty Italian dressing with a package of Ranch dressing mix. This dish can be used as a dip with corn chips or as a side. The longer you let it marinade before digging in, the better the flavor!