Friday, September 30, 2011

Plum Streusel



I had a sweet lady give us a huge bag of plums a couple of days ago....so get ready for some plum posts!
I am dehydrating a few, making Plum Butter for Christmas presents {recipe coming tomorrow}, and made this Plum Streusel last night.
I have to tell you it was divine!
We ate it warm and plain, but it would be wonderful topped with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
 It makes a great breakfast the next day, too:).
The recipe comes from Mary Jane Butter's book, Mary Jane's Idea Book.
You should own it, if you don't all ready:).

Plum Streusel

1 large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
40 small prune plums {I used a different variety}

TOPPING:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBS. flour
3 TBS. butter, melted
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 TBS. Chinese Five Spice Powder {you can make your own~ mix equal parts ground ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom}
1/2 cup walnuts, broken into pieces {I used chopped almonds}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9 pan.

2. In a large bowl, cream the egg, brown sugar, and butter. Add milk and stir to combine.

3. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt, and add to the creamed mixture. Set aside.

4. Mix together topping ingredients until crumbly and set aside.

5. Halve and pit the plums and put one layer in the bottom of the pan. Top with half the batter and half of the topping. Repeat.

6. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown.

Yield: 9 servings

Enjoy!

~Julia

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Freezing Diced Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce


I have been keeping up with my tomatoes this year and have sooo many!


The kids and I eat the Cherry Tomatoes fresh whenever we walk by...


And these Lemon Plums are sooo sweet!


I planted mostly Romas for canning, sauce, and salsa.
They are a dense, meaty variety and are versatile for many recipes.

We picked a whole fruit box the other day, and then I panicked because I knew I didn't have the time to can them. Why do I do that?
Luckily, I ran into this post by Serena Thompson of The Farm Chicks.
What a simple and delicious way to preserve tomatoes....just wash, blend, and freeze!
She puts a little Olive oil and sautes garlic in a pan before adding the frozen tomatoes and using them in soups or other recipes.
 Yum!
 I can't wait to try it!
So, to freeze tomatoes {either diced or pureed}:

Wash them really well.

Take off the stems.
Using a food processor or blender, either dice them or puree.



If you don't want as much liquid, let tomatoes drain in a colander before freezing.

Pack into freezer bags, seal, and label.
I like to put about 2 cups per quart bag because this is a perfect amount for soups and other recipes.


This was a really fast way to preserve tomatoes and I am sure that the nutritional value is better because everything is so fresh and the skins are included.
I totally needed this...some days I feel overwhelmed with the amount of "To Do's" on my list. 
I think it only took me 30 minutes to process about  35 pounds of tomatoes.
Too fun!

Hope you have a GREAT day:).


~Julia

Joining Amy at Homestead Revival for her Preparedness Challenge:)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Freezing Whole Kernel Corn


Just down the road from us is an organic corn field.


So, we packed up after lunch one day to pick 200 ears.
My helpers made it go so much faster!


I froze about 20 gallon bags full of corn on the cob.
If you would like to learn how to do that, click HERE.
I love corn any way, but whole kernel is so convenient when you are making soups, casseroles, or just need a quick side dish.
To freeze whole kernel corn:
1. Select fresh ears of corn that are at the peak of quality and flavor.

2. Husk, trim off the ends that aren't usable, remove silks, and wash.

3. Blanch corn~
1 1/2 inches in diameter for 6 minutes
2 inches in diameter for 8 minutes
larger for 10 minutes
Start counting time when ears are completely submerged in water.

4. Remove corn, and immediately submerge in cool water {fill your clean sink}.
Allow corn to remain in water for as long as you blanched it.

5. Drain, and dry corn on clean dish cloths on the counter.

6. To cut corn from the cob, hold cob upright, resting one end on a cutting board.
Cut kernels from corn with a knife.



For whole kernel corn, cut kernels from cob leaving tip ends.
For cream style, go back a second time and scrape edge of the cob to extract milk.

7. Pack into quart or gallon freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible.


You will love having all of that fresh corn to make healthy meals during the Winter!

~Julia



Friday, September 23, 2011

Freezing Green Peppers


I had a VERY generous friend share this box of peppers with me!
I was so excited because they are so expensive in the stores right now.
The nice thing about freezing is that it is fast and you don't have to let things go to waste.
If you aren't sure how to freeze a certain product, just look it up on the internet or refer to {my favorite} the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.
HERE is also a really good list of how to freeze fruits and vegetables.
Green peppers are especially easy because you don't have to blanch them.
Here is how to do it...

Wash thoroughly, cut out stems, and remove seeds.


Freeze whole, as halves, strips, or diced.
I like them diced...they go easily into casserole dishes.
A food processor or blender makes it go faster:).



 Pack into freezer bags, seal, label, and freeze.


Having fresh, chopped green peppers in the freezer is wonderful.
It makes cooking a dish so much faster and convenient!

~Julia

Freezing Cabbage

I bet you never thought to freeze cabbage!
Cabbage is a great vegetable to include in your diet as it contains more anti-cancer compounds than any other food!
I like to use it in soups through the Winter, so freezing it comes in handy.
 My friend Beth gave me the biggest cabbage I had ever seen a couple of days ago.
I am so thankful to have so much of it in the freezer for later use.



To freeze: 
Wash and discard outer leaves.
Cut into wedges or shred in thin cuts.

Blanch wedges for 3 minutes.
If you shred the cabbage, blanch for 1 1/2 minutes.
Cool and drain....I always lay the cabbage out on a clean dish towel on the counter.

When cabbage is fairly dry, pack into quart freezer bags, seal and freeze.

It is that easy!

Have a wonderful day!

~Julia


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peach~Nectarine Fruit Leather

Fruit leather just brings back memories of school lunches for me.
It is a really fun snack to make and you can use any variety or combination of fruit!
Right now, we have plenty of peaches and nectarines.
I like to make fruit leather because you can use up the bruised or damaged fruit and the flavor is still wonderful:).

Peach~Nectarine Fruit Leather

About 3 pounds nectarines and peaches {combined}. You can use ANY combination of fruits.
1 TBS lemon juice
1/4 cup honey {this really gives it a great texture and flavor}

Wash your peaches and nectarines really well. Cut into quarters, pit, and put into a pot on low. Use a potato masher to cook down. Add lemon juice and honey.

 When fruit is heated through and it looks fairly mashed, put into a blender. Blend until smooth.
Oil the inserts for your dehydrator. Pour puree onto dish 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Smooth out evenly with a spoon.

 Dry at 135 degrees until leathery and pliable...about 6-7 hours.


 Make sure there are no sticky spots in the center. 
While fruit leather is still warm, cut and roll in wax paper.
I just use scissors to cut even pieces.






Store in glass jars and use as a quick pick me up during the day!
This recipe is sooo delicious...sweet and a bit tangy at the same time!

Enjoy!

~Julia

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dehydrated Pears

I am so busy preserving right now, but I thought it would be fun to share what I am doing along the way.
There is so much you can do with fruit!


I was canning the other day, when my friend Beth called and suggested I dehydrate some of my pears. 
Why didn't I think of that?
It really takes no time at all, is a delicious and nutritious snack, and really helps use up a ginormous pile of pears!
Wash your pears thoroughly and slice from the end.
Sometimes I peel my fruit, but most of the time I just leave the skin on and skip coring the pears.
It is really fast this way.

Slice in 1/4 inch rounds.
You can treat them in lemon juice and water {2TBS lemon juice to 1 quart water}.
I usually don't because I like fast and simple:).
Layer on your dehydrator as close as possible.


Dry at 130-135 degrees until they are leathery...not crispy.
They will shrink up quite a bit.

I store them in a half gallon canning jar and use them as snacks all through the Winter.
Yum! 

Tomorrow....I'll be showing you how to make peach/nectarine fruit leather!

~Julia

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Canning Pears

This time of the year is just delicious to me.
The crisp Fall air, the sweet aroma of fading flowers and ripened fruit, and warm days followed by cool evenings that make it easy to fall asleep in our soft beds.
'Tis also the season for canning.

I bought 100# of Red Bartlett pears and have been working away.
I have canned some, dried some, and of course we are eating a few.
I thought I would give a tutorial for those of you who are first time canners.
Let me encourage you!
 It is quite easy and just requires a little of your time, but the results are well worth it!
You'll have fresh, wonderful jars of pears that are healthy and will provide a delicious treat during the Winter!


Before you start, please read THIS.
 The article guides you through setting up, equipment, and the basics of canning.
I always start with a clean surface and use a disinfectant on all of my counter tops.
I usually boil my jars ahead of time and then put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 170 degrees.
I also have a little pot on the stove with my lids and rings in very hot water.
So, let's get started!


You will need:
Water Bath Canner
Lemon Juice
Large Bowl
Magnetic Wand
Jar Lifter
Clean Rags
7 Quart Jars
Funnel
Slotted Spoon
Small Pot
Large Pot
Butter Knife
Ladle 
Cutting Board
Melon Scoop...opt.




Canned Pears
From Ball Blue Book
~~~~~~~~~~
2-3 pounds of pears per quart jar {about an average 17.5 lbs. for a canner load}        Your pears should still be hard...like an apple.
Sugar 
Water




You will want to start by making a simple syrup for your pears.





      Simple Syrup Proportions
SyrupSugarWaterYield
Light2 cups6 cups7 cups
Medium3 cups6 cups6 1/2 cups
Heavy4 cups6 cups7 cups


I always use a light syrup because I like the naturally sweet flavor of the fruit.
You will want to put the syrup in a medium pot, as we will cook the pears in the syrup for a bit.
Wash your pears, peel, and cut in half.
 Then core them.
This is how I like to do it...
Cut off a small portion at the top and bottom stem, then peel.



 I then make a "V" down the center with a paring knife.
 Some people just use a melon baller to scoop out the center.




Put them is a separate bowl filled with water and a little lemon juice to prevent browning. {4 cups water to 2 TBS. lemon juice}

Place pears in hot syrup to cook until they are hot throughout.
Get your hot jars ready!
You will also want your canner filled half way with hot water.
Pack hot pears in layers in the hot jar using a slotted spoon.
Make sure that there is a 1/2 inch of head space at the top while pressing. When we process, the pears will shrink a little.


Next, use your funnel and ladle in hot syrup over pears, leaving 1/2 inch head space. 
You will then "burp" your little jar of pears.
I know most people recommend using a rubber spatula, but I am a rebel:).
A butter knife works great to just slide down the sides and gently press in against the pears, removing any air bubbles.



Take your wet rag and thoroughly wipe the rim so that it is clean and will seal properly.


Lift a lid out with your magnetic wand and put on top, add ring until snug, and you are ready to put that jar in the canner!


When you have 7 jars prepared,  place them in the water bath canner.
Make sure that the water is at least 1-2 inches above the jars.
This is really important:).




Put the canner lid in place and bring to a boil for 25 minutes. 
If you used pint jars~20 minutes.
I just set a timer!
After processing is complete, remove lid and turn off heat.
Let sit for 5 minutes and the carefully remove with jar lifter.




Let the jars cool on a dish cloth, at least two inches apart. 
You will not remove the rings for 12-24 hours. 
At that point will check for a good seal.
I love to hear my lids popping as they cool.
With the traditional metal lids, a good seal will mean that the top has sunken in and the lid is tight on the rim.
You can store the jars for up to one year.


Enjoy!


~Julia

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Aunt Barbara's Famous Chili

My Aunt is a simply wonderful cook. Once you try her famous chili, it will fast become your favorite!
It is a hearty, simple meal that you can serve over rice, with baked potatoes, over french fries, or simply with a dollop of sour cream and crusty bread.
It is even better the second day!

Aunt Barbara's Famous Chili

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-16oz. can diced tomatoes
1-16oz. can dark red kidney beans, drained
1-8oz. can tomato sauce
2-3 TBS. chili powder {to taste}
1/2 tsp. crushed basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
dash paprika
dash cayenne pepper

In a large pot, cook ground beef, onion, celery, green pepper until meat is brown. Drain fat.
Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, basil, salt, pepper, bay leaf, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, occasionally adding water as needed. Add kidney beans about 30 minutes before serving.

OR...
cook beef, put everything in the crockpot, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.


It is the perfect Fall meal!
You could make Aunt Barbara's Popcorn Cake for dessert:).
Enjoy.

~Julia

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