Canning, freezing, baking – old fashioned maybe? But still relevant and rewarding.

Today, among other things, I baked and then froze squash from our garden. Spaghetti squash and Butternut squash.  After cutting the squash in half and removing the seeds I then  baked the squash for what seemed a long time at 350 degrees untill they were good and soft, I let them cool just enough to handle and then in an epiphany got out an ice cream scoop and used that to scoop out the meat of the squash from the shells.  Wow should have thought of that a long time ago because it worked like a charm.

I then put the squash into bags and sealed them with our vacumn sealer, this squash will taste so very good this winter.

I then made a batch of peanut butter cookies, oh yeah, Suzie Homemaker here for sure today. Since I retired from my day job just over a year ago I have had much more time for these things that I so enjoy and feel compelled to do!

Over the past few days I have processed 4 different types of peppers as well. Anaheims, Poblanos, Pimentos, and Cubanellas. The Anaheims and Poblanos I roasted under the boiler so as to be able to skin them before freezing. the Pimentos I canned in small jars and the Cubanellas I just seeded and cut into slices and froze them.

Enjoy the fruits of the season and of your labors, now and later on as well!  It is therapy for me and could be for you too!  If you don’t know how or don’t have any books about canning/freezing you can find it all online! Just use google and off you go.

 

Projects…………………. new things I’ve tried and the results.

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I have been wanting to put up some backsplash in our kitchen (behind the stove of course) for some time now. Finally got some cute little 6″ square tin tiles and began the process. Of course they come with double stick tape stuff to put them up. Well they don’t stick so well so I got a tube of liquid nails and used both, awesome it works. Got it done yesterday and it looks great. Now I will admit this does not look at all professional but my husband likes it so its all good. Discovered during this process that apparently the piece of granite that goes up the wall a short way is not totally level, however, as I told my husband with enough stuff on the counter no one will see anyhow!

Next thing I tried was making my own mayonaise! Had thought about for years and just never done. Oh my goodness it was easy and turned out so yummy, don’t know why I have not done this before, may just quit buying store bought. It is thick and creamy and I am already thinking about ways to spice it up if we want it for specific recipes or dips/sauces. I boiled up a bunch of eggs and made a lovely egg salad using my mayo!

After all these projects were done  I went out to the garden and found , to my delight, that we had some lovely potatoes ready to dig. We only had a couple plants as I just plopped in a couple spuds that were growing in my pantry – LOL. Will do more next year as I truly love new potatoes. Also picked some peppers and a few tomatoes and a couple of tiny little eggplants.

Ok thats it for now! Enjoy the last parts of nice weather as I hear we are to get another cold, snowy winter here in Idaho!

 

Today’s project completed – Love it when a plan comes together!!

Today’s project was to make and preserve a big batch of pear mincemeat.  Mom used to make this and it was so yummy that i had to try it myself. Credit for the recipe actually goes to the Farm Journal Canning & Freezing cookbook (not sure of the date but its been out for years). So 15 pounds of pears,  4 pounds of raisens, 13+ cups of sugar, a bunch of oh-they-smell-so-good spices and lots of chopping and cooking later here is the result. 5 quarts , 9 pints, and one pickle jar all done, sealed and labeled.

Yes it is a lot of work and required lots of standing whilst cutting, chopping, etc. I did use the meat grinder on my kitchen-aid mixer to do the fine chopping but the rough chopping was all done by my hand.  The house still smells like the spices even hours after I was done with the batch. All of these things, not to mention just seeing the jars all sealed and in rows makes me happy. It is such a feeling of accomplishment to preserve foods which I know my family will enjoy later.

I print my own labels using Avery’s online template and print feature. One can save the labels but as I don’t make the same thing again on the same day/same year often I don’t bother to save and heck it takes no time at all to make up new labels anyhow. Thanks Avery for this great service!

A nifty re-use idea I just came up with!!! Ok an alternative idea in fact.

Ok I have had this little dealie for years – it’s intended purpose was to hold bra’s during washing so as to keep them from getting all tied up with other items.   Did I ever use it for that? Heck no, never could remember to do it.

Today as I was loading the dishwasher and had quite a number of lids to put it, I had a brainstorm!!! Oh yes they do happen once in a while and sometimes are quite innovative too.  I thought to myself, self why don’t you find that bra holder dealie and put all the lids in it and throw in the dishwasher and keep them from sliding all over the place.  So I loaded it up (I know amazing that I managed to remember where it was) and put it in the dishwasher. The cycle is still going so have not been able to see how it did but can not imagine any issues with it. Dishwasher just got done and woo hoo  looks like it worked very well!

Now must get started on a big cheesecake for a small dinner (party-get together) we are having tomorrow afternoon/early evening.  Family and friends coming for bbq’d steaks, spuds, salad, deviled eggs (already made today), and this dessert I am making.

Ok off I go. Hope anyone who reads this and has one of the ‘bra’ dealies will try my idea!!! Thanks for reading our posts.

Wish Upon a Star, or a Catalog!

When we were kids [back in the day, decades ago] there were two or three things we always looked forward to in the mail.  Remember, for several years we only received mail once or twice a month, because we lived on a homestead accessible only by water or small plane.  Our Dad went to town for supplies, and to longshore the monthly freighters that supplied that town.  But that is several other stories.

So there we were, anxiously awaiting what in the mail?  Packages from our Grandma in California, and in later years the boxes of school books from the Calvert Course and the library box. Oh my, again with the several other stories.

High on our list of favorite mail however was THE WISH BOOK.  You all remember those, right?  No?  Okay, for the ‘too young’ or folks who never experienced it, this was the Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalog.  Actually we received two, because Montgomery Wards also had one.  We spent literally hours and hours pouring over these two beautiful publications.  Pencil or crayon in hand, we would mark our initials by the things we wanted. Some items got marked by all of us, some were individual choices.  Primarily it was toys, but also clothes and things for our family. It kept us entertained for weeks!  We also knew that we would probably not get any of our selections, but we could dream and so we did.

Last week I found out that our young granddaughters discovered their own ‘wish book’.  The 6 year old brought the catalog to me, proudly sharing each item she had circled and put her initial by. Upon hearing her, the 3 year old said “Gma, I could mark some too.”  Off they went, happy for a while at least with their own shared ‘wish book’.  Definitely brought back memories, especially when I shared the story with my sisters.

Ah, now those of you from our generation, and a few after, are saying “But there isn’t a Sears or Wards Wish Book any more!”  [Whereas the ‘too young’ are still just bewildered.]  You are right, there isn’t. **  But then it is not a Christmas catalog, but one that is more dear to the hearts and green thumbs of our little grands.

Gurney’s. 

Uhuh, the fall perennial & flower issue!  They will be non-partisan and do the same when Burpee’s and the others come through as well, plotting and planning what looks beautiful and that they MIGHT convince their folks or grandparents to order and help them ‘plant’.

Meanwhile, they help with the watering, harvesting and preserving, asking a million questions and reminding us “but last year you did it this way, Gma, don’t you remember?”

**In looking for an image of a vintage Sears Wish Book to use, I see that they do have one still.  Apparently none of us bought enough to remain on their list!

Rock, Driftwood, Beach

Most folks play “rock, paper, scissors”  well we play  Rocks, Driftwood, Beach in our world. My three sisters and I have an undeniable attraction to rocks, chunks of driftwood, pieces of bark, moss, trees etc.  We are particularly fond of beaches near and around Haines, Alaska, however, pretty much any beach will do.

Walking along a beach, possibly barefoot with our pants legs rolled up a bit, splashing in the waves, looking for shells and rocks or just watching the waves roll in is a treat for us. As children growing up on a homestead in SE Alaska we used to sometimes find Japanese glass floats – those were special treasures.

Driftwood evokes memories of our childhood and also sparks creative ideas for things to craft! Chunks of smoothed-by-the-water driftwood can be theraputic just to stroke and admire. I have to admit to having shipped home (with our household goods) several pieces of driftwood from Kodiak island some years ago. They were just so cool and my husband said well put them in the boxes and ship them – so I did!  Big chunks of driftwood make us drool (ok salivate may be the nicer term) as they might look very cool in our yards but normally must just stay where they are. Pieces of curled up birch bark are special finds along with chunks of wood with moss growing on them.

We will hunt for, and find, rocks just about anywhere. We are not sure what draws us to  a particular rock but they just call to us so we must take them home.  Eldest sister, Denise, has a rock tumble and has an eye for ones that will tumble nicely.  Some rocks just beg to be taken home and placed lovingly in a flower bed or on a table, shelf, or mantel.  My husband and I  brought home a fair sized rock from Canada during our drive through coming home from Kodiak, AK to Mtn Home, ID in 2011.  Lynn, my husband, said we had to have an A rock to commemorate our passage through the country. This rock has a spot in our front flower garden.  All of us have seen great huge interesting rocks we would love to have in our yards as a focal point but, sigh, they are usually way too big to move let alone get into a pickup bed.

We don’t settle disputes/arguments with rock-driftwood-beach but they are all important in our lives.  We are all blessed that our husbands let us be us and bring home crazy things with all these pieces of inspiration!

So I guess the only thing left to say is   Stay Calm and Rock, Driftwood, Beach On!!

If we had groundhogs….

A) Is it nice to wake someone up when they are sleeping?  No wonder the ground hog is often grouchy.  Come on, you could get the same info from the weatherman and have it as accurate.

B) Here in SW Oregon it really would have depended on the exact timing of the awakening. It’s sunshine! No, it’s cloudy with a chill breeze! Wait, wait, well there it is…

C) Hoping we do not have six more weeks of serious winter, although by calendar we actually have over six weeks.

Now, to cheer yourself up, look at a seed or nursery catalog, because even if you’ve not intention at all of planting anything, the beautiful foliage, fresh veggies and gorgeous flowers are bound to make you feel … well … springy!

I’m dreaming of some warmer weather…..

I am a dreamer.  I believe I got this trait from my Dad, Herbert Stelting, as he was a dreamer as well. I think my three sisters would agree on this.  Dad always dreamed of new things in new places, new adventures, new friends, new opportunities and yes he was crafty as well making lovely turned wood items and other wood craft things. He was not necessarily a ‘polished’ woodworker but he made functional pieces and some of them turned out just flat beautiful!! We each ended up with a few of his pieces after his and our Mom’s passing.  These pieces evoke fond memories for me and take me back to days watching Dad in his workshop and the stories he would tell whilst working.  Oh yes Dad was a great story teller too. For someone who never finished school, he was so well read and had an awesome vocabulary. Dad was also a writer/poet and had more than a touch of wonderlust  in his soul. Here is an excerpt from one of the many poems he penned:

Itchy Feet by H.W. Stelting

I’ve scratched my itchy feet

On windswept desert sands,

On rugged mountain ranges

And on the shores of foreign lands.

I’ve soaked ’em in icy waters

Of lake and stream and bay

But still the itch remains

To plague me night and day.

To read the rest of this poem and many, many more see our website www.homesteadline.com and click on the books link. Dad’s book is called Tales of Skookum Jim.  You will also find there books and/or cds available about our (us four sisters and our folks) life on a homestead in Alaska.

Now, back to me, I enjoy travel but don’t have the itchy feet syndrome so much as Dad did…. I truly enjoy being home most of the time. I do dream of things to come and/or things I would like to have happen. I love to read and do so voraciously, lots of different types of books enthrall me and transport me to places I have never been and probably never will go.  Ah it is so fun to get lost in a great story and wile away the hours…but wait………… there is housework, a grand daughter to care for, dinner to fix, laundry, yard and garden work  and the ever present ideas for crafting. So when do I have time to read and dream, well I manage to sneak in a little time each day for these things as I believe they are important for my well being. And being a multi-tasker I can listen to a book while I sew and craft and I can dream along during those times as well. I am blessed to have my husband who understands my need to craft ( and who also loves to read) and lets me ‘do my thing’ and actually often comes up with new ideas for me to try – as if I did not have enough myself! It is so awesome to have my husband/best friend to bounce ideas off of and he will tell me if he thinks it’s a bust as well as to tell me when he thinks it’s a great idea.

It is snowing again today and we have a roast with spuds, carrots, onions, and garlic cooking in the crockpot for tonight’s dinner. Perfect meal for a cold winter day. Maybe I will be ambitious and make some rolls to go with it.

So my friends, have a safe, warm day and take time for yourselves each day – I do believe that we need to take care of ourselves well in order to be able to take care of others. God Bless!

I am SO ready for spring, however Mother Nature thinks otherwise!

Looking out our back door this morning just after the sun poked through all the fog! So pretty but so dang cold.  I am dreaming of warmer days and working in our yard and garden. We have had (and ‘they’) say we are to get more of the same. It is a toasty 14 degrees right now. So what to do? Well don’t have any power over the weather so we just make do. Cold winter days are great for planning an expanded garden and plotting all sorts of new craft endeavors (a new quilt idea has cropped up) as well. Also great for nice hot filling soups/stews and/or casseroles.

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Heavy frost on the neighbors trees on a COLD bright morning here in Idaho.

My husband and I are currently raising one of our young granddaughters, Miss Ellie will be 2 in March and keeps us very busy. It’s a good thing I retired from my day-job back in August – I need the time, not to mention energy to keep up with her. Ok so I try to keep up with her. She is a very busy little girl, very loving, smart, cute – ah did I say I am a wee bit prejudiced in her favor? LOL We love all our grands so very much – all 7 of them!

Some, just some of the piles of snow!

Some, just some of the piles of snow!


This was Miss Ellie’s very first experience with snow – she loved it.

We do have plans for a much expanded garden this year. Since I am home most of the time I intend to grow lots of yummy things. Saw a great idea for a different type of raised bed on a Public TV show recently and want to try it. Gotta find a huge pile of bricks somewhere….. hmmm would be great to find someone tearing down old house or chimney that did not want to keep the bricks. Planning on veggies from A to Z, so to speak, we love fresh veggies and I love to can, freeze, preserve, dehydrate lots of things. May need to build an additional pantry for all the stuff I plan to do. Of course there is the thing of plans not always coming together but I will certainly make a big stab at doing all the things I want to do.

I am doing my embroidery and other textile projects. Visit me at www.only1co.com for information on Custom Embroidery. I love all things textile – fabric, embroidery, knitting, crochet, weaving, sewing.. the list goes on and on. I keep a notebook near all the time so I can jot down ideas as they come to me.

I hope you are all keeping warm and safe during these winter months. Spring will come and with it all the renewal that comes with new green on plants, trees, and grass. My mood lifts considerably with sunny days and getting outside again. Oh yes, when nice weather arrives we will also go camping as much as we can too! Note to self: be sure to get the drip system set up for garden when its time so I won’t have to worry about watering when am off camping or off on the annual trip with my three sisters.

Here’s to lots of good books to read, warm snuggly blankets, hugs and loves from family and friends, a good cup of hot tea (coffee) and may the Good Lord Bless you all!