Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This weekend I attempted my FIRST EVER canning.  I've cooked down fruit with sugar and put that in jars, but never canned on my own.   My Mom canned when I was a child....but that's a long time ago. 

My friend has a wonderful garden that was started early in a greenhouse in February.  A few days ago I checked the status of the pickles and they were all rather tiny.   Saturday they were ready to be picked in an assortment of sizes!   I cut the large pickles into "hamburger slices" and the smaller pickles into spears. 

For my first attempt I didn't want to use a recipe that I was unsure of so I just picked up a packet of Mrs. Wages Kosher Dill Pickles.   After a little more canning experience I'll venture into creating my own recipes. 

In my little house there's only a 2-burner stove...and one of those burners is not working.   The larger one of course!   It was VERY challenging to time everything and bring the water to a boil on the smaller burner.  Perhaps it's time to look into getting that repaired or a new stove-top.   Going from being a 4-burner girl to 2 burners has been quite an adjustment!

And here they are!   My first ever dill pickles! 

(Try not to picture a 51-year old 6'1" woman doing the happy dance in the kitchen when they were done.  It might ruin the effect.) 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Coconut yogurt....kinda

I do not have the patience of a saint.  Fact.   This was discovered in my attempt to make coconut milk to use in making coconut crockpot yogurt.

Coconut meat and shells

Coconut water

I started off with two brown coconuts and one young coconut and cracked them open and poured out the water. 


As you can see there was a LOT of work to be done to get the meat off of the shell.   I really need to figure out a better way to do this because after 80% of the way through I was not as neat and tidy about cleaning off the rind since I knew it was going to go in the Vita Mix.

Pulpy mixture of coconut yogurt

Unfortunately, the Vita Mix can only do what it is given to work with.   I must have had a LITTLE bit too much rind remaining on the coconut meat and it gave it a very grainy consistency. I personally liked it, but I knew that it would never do for the rest of my family.   It went into the crockpot anyway and did make a yogurt, albeit grainy.  

I'm not one to try to waste anything - I'll try and turn a mistake into something productive.    For some reason my children call them "Mom's Experiments"?????


Coconut milk ice cubes!
So here's a picture of my coconut yogurt that was frozen into ice cube trays.   Easy-peasy to grab out of a freezer bag and throw into smoothies.

Ha!  Chalk up one for Mom's Experiments!

Love Craig's List!

Craig's List buy!
A few weeks ago I posted an ad on Craig's list for canning supplies and got a reply!

Last night I picked up 40 jars of assorted sizes for  $10.00.    There were some rings and lids but they were not in good shape and most were rusty. 

Now I just need to learn to can!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Homemade Wine????

I am not quite a wine purist.   I like my wine sweet...and cheap.   Box wine is a wonderful buy because each box holds something like 5-6 bottles of wine.  A box is usually less that $12.00 so that equals out to $2.00 per bottle or so.

While shopping on eBay one time I came across WonderWine.  Homemade wine in a box.   Hmmmmmmmm.  I purchased two and made them.  The loganberry turned out OK. The grape did not.

Last night I decided to give it another try. 

The idea of WonderWine is to be able to make wine in 2-litre soda bottles.   Inside the box are three packets - flavor, yeast, and clarifier.   All you need to add is sugar and water.   You will also need two pieces of saran wrap and two rubber bands.   The instructions show how much sugar to add dependent upon your tastes.  

Here's what I did:  

  • Take two 2-litre bottles and wash them.
  • According to the package directions add all of your sugar to one bottle. 
    (Since I like a sweeter wine I added 4 1/2 cups of sugar.)
  • Open the flavor packet and add to the bottle with the sugar.
  • Add hot water to the bottle with the sugar and flavor until it is 3/4's full.
  • Put lid on and shake until sugar and flavor are dissolved.  (This did not take long.)
  • Divide the contents evenly between the two bottles.
  • Fill the two bottles up the rest of the way with cold water.
  • Open the yeast packet and divide evenly between the two bottles.
  • Cover the openings with saran wrap and tighten with a rubber band.
  • Let sit for 6 weeks or so until the bubbles have stopped fizzing.  At that point you will add the clarifier and let sit for another period of time.

Here's how my two bottles looked right after adding the yeast.  You can see it floating in the liquid. 

This flavor is peach.   I'll update periodically to let you know where the process is at.  

I hope this one turns out...... I still have two more boxes at home and I'd hate to waste them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Special "K" Strawberries

12 more pounds of strawberries were picked this weekend. Last weekend we got them for $1.00 a pound, which I thought was a good price. This weekend they were $0.50 a pound! Six dollars for twelve pounds of strawberries!! You gotta love a bargain.
There's now three more large freezer bags of frozen whole strawberries, another large jar of strawberry sauce, and the rest were put in the dehydrator to make dry strawberries like you get in cereal.
They didn't dry quite the same. I would think the cereal type are definitely dried another way, but they'll do for us.
It's amazing how things shrink when dehydrated. This is all we got from five full trays.
Maybe this weekend I should go pick more. I wonder what the price will be?

Jill's Home Remedies Giveaway!

There's a wonderful giveaway on Jill's Home Remedies Blog.    You can enter here!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Go Pick Your Own

A picking craze has started.    After seeing strawberry prices in the grocery store and at roadside stands it was decided a road trip was in order to find a pick-your-own place.  Luckily one was in the area.   Although it was a little mushy due to recent rains we were able to pick almost 10 pounds each and had a great time.  

Note to self:   DON'T drink a lot of coffee before going strawberry picking.  

The strawberries smelled wonderful in the car on the way home.  Since they were so fresh and had recently experienced getting wet from the rain I wanted to do something with them right away.

Some got devoured by the kids and there are now two huge bags in the freezer.   I simply laid them on cookie sheets for an hour until frozen and then put in Ziploc bags.   Freezing them this way keeps them separate and un-clumpy.   Very easy to grab for smoothies or deserts.
The rest of the strawberries were either cooked
into pancakes or boiled with sugar to a thick consistency.  This was used as a syrup
for the pancakes.   It's also delicious with the homemade yogurt or added to cold water for a refreshing drink.  

We're going back for more this weekend!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Impulsive Yogurt

First of all let me preface this by saying that I have an appointment for a root canal next Monday and I'm self-medicating the pain.

This weekend I purchased a large container of plain yogurt with the intention of playing around to make homemade not realizing that my daughter REALLY enjoys plain yogurt. Especially with some chocolate chips mixed in it.

While going to make my lunch for the following work day, I realized at 10pm that the container was almost empty. Well, that won't do will it?

So after having 3 glasses of wine (self-medicating, remember?) I got the grand idea to start the homemade yogurt in the crockpot.

After placing half a gallon of 2% milk in the crockpot and turning it on high I read the rest of the recipe. Oops! Apparently it's not the best time of night to start a project like this since the temperature needs to be monitored. Oh well, undaunted I continued because I am not going to waste a half gallon of milk.

It's really simple to do, which is the main reason I tried it.


Take 1/2 gallon milk and put it in a crockpot turned on high. There are different versions regarding the temperature but high worked for me. Bring the temperature to 180-185 degrees. This should take about 2 hours. After it reaches that temperature unplug the crockpot and let it cool to 115 degrees. Take out 1 cup of the warm milk and add 1/2 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt to it. Make sure the yogurt is listed as having live and active cultures in it. Stir back into the crockpot. Cover with a big towel and place the entire crockpot in the oven and let sit for 8-12 hours.

Needless to say I had to set my alarm every hour so that I could check the temperature. By 2:15 am my yogurt was in the oven. When I came home for lunch it was perfect. Not too bad for a first try!

Oh, you might also want to let your family know what you are doing so you don't get questions from 18 year old sons in the morning like I did....."Mom, why is there a towel in the oven?..."

The Mulberry Tree

I've heard of mulberry trees, but I didn't know ABOUT mulberry trees. My neighbor up the street has one. All I really knew was to be careful in that part of the yard so that I wouldn't track it into the house and stain the floor or carpet.

This weekend I was helping in the garden and saw berries in the grass and was told they are mulberries. "Are they edible?". "Yes."

Oh my goodness. Why am I finding these things out now?! Mulberries are delicious and taste like a raspberry, which as we all know, are frightfully expensive.

So off I went crawling along the grass picking mulberries to my hearts content and munching away. After a look of....disgust (?) I was handed a container to fill.

Everyday I go up the street with my colander and pick the berries off of the grass. My neighbors should be used to me walking back and forth, but this probably gives them something new to talk about. When they come home they get rinsed right away and cooked with a little bit of sugar making the most marvelous topping on my homemade yogurt. (more about that later)

I have so much to learn....