Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend Adventures and read aloud books

This weekend was fairly laid back. We went to a pool party for one of friends birthday's and to church other than that it was low key for once. I went to the farmers market Friday to get our normal eggs and such. I REALLY hope our chickens start laying soon. Since we got them we have started to consume a crazy amount of eggs. We usually egg at least two dozen a week. A lot of that does come from cooking from scratch all the time now. While I was at the market I picked up a few pounds of jalapenos. I LOVE spicy food. With winter bringing a lot of chili and stew I can easily eat a jar a week. It seems silly to can them to most. I mean you can buy a jar for less than two dollars. It's really not the cost it is just another way to avoid refined sugar and food dye. Most contain at the very least yellow dye. I bought roughly five pounds. I planted a few plants this year in the garden and they did not yield enough to can. Next year we will plant a bunch more. They were super easy to can. I was done in less than a hour.

I started doing half pints. I was afraid if I opened a jar i might not use them fast enough. I have no idea what I was thinking. The half pints would be two servings with something like chili. I ended up doing three pints. If I have time I may do another batch. It was a simple brine two cups of vinegar and two cups water. I added a half teaspoon canning salt and a clove of garlic to each jar and processed ten minutes in boiling water. 

Read a loud's

I am trying to be better about reading to Cohlie. She loves to read and so while at Target I saw this book. Anne of Green Gables. It was in the dollar section with Wizard of Oz and Little Women. We have already read a few chapters. She really like a longer story to keep up with. 

She decided to draw "Anne". Long red hair and freckles.

This weekend I also decided to dive into soaking grains. I have been doing a lot of reading about the benefits of soaking any grains you use. This is a great read on soaking, sprouting and souring grains.
Last night I sat my mixture of oats ( I used organic rolled oats form the bulk section of Whole Foods) milk and vinegar to soak. I used this recipe a friend recommended. 

This morning I added the rest of the stuff and made waffles.

 I had been using a recipe from the Blog 100 days of real Food. These were much better. 
This little man got his belly full and snuck back in bed. I love his little smile. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Canning adventures

 Canning adventures

I have decided to try blogging again. First of all when I look back at previous blog posts it makes me realize how fast my kids are growing up. Secondly I get asked all the time about "how we eat"! So I decided to give it another go. This year our family had really made an effort to become self suffecient and clean up our diet. We still have a REALLY long way to go to get where we want to be. One of my main goals this summer was to learn how to preserve all the food growing in our garden. My thought was if I can preserve some of the things that we buy in the winter it would really help our every growing food budget. As a family we have been really focused on eating a real food diet and as organic as possible. If I can avoid purchasing canned organic tomatoes, salsa, pizza sauce ect it would really help. This spring we set out to raise a organic garden. It has not done as well as we had hoped because of the crazy amounts of rain this summer. However we have been able to can some things out of our garden. My parents also have a HUGE garden and we have gotten a lot from them. This week my mom called and said she had some extra tomatoes. By extra I mean probably 30 pounds or so. I had canned a bunch of peaches a few weeks ago but this was my first big project. My mother in law handed me down a pressure canner a few years ago. I have been using it as a hot water bath canner. I have been reading a lot on canning and asking one of my friends questions until she probably hates to see my name pop up on her phone! So we were off on our canning adventure.

Picking Tomatoes
 Mathis helped a little.
Hudson is no help at all!
This was part of our haul of tomatoes from the second trip.
 My first tomato project was pizza sauce. We love to make homemade pizza so I know this will get used a ton this fall and winter. I got the recipe here. A blog I read posted it with rave reviews.
 I sauteed my organic onions ( that I purchase at Trader Joe's pretty cheap) organic olive oil and organic garlic.

 I tossed the tomatoes in small batches in boiling water and then a ice water bath.

 That step made the skins peel right off. My goal is to always involve the kids as much as I can. I feel like it's as much of our homeschooling as anything. I want my daughter especially to learn to manage a home and be able to take care of her family in the future.
 Once the tomatoes were peeled I tossed them in the pot with the other stuff and the spices. I used my emersion blender to puree them. Next time I will use my food processor. I felt like with the blender it was a little to thin. I cooked the sauce down for a few hours until it was some what thick. I poured the hot sauce in clean mason jars and sealed them with lids and rings that I had in hot water on the stove. After that it was in the boiling pot for 25 minutes.


Another thing we use a ton of is salsa. I always try to avoid as much refined sugar as possible so I knew canning my own was a way to avoid unwanted ingredients. I mean really why does salsa need food dye or sugar??? I found a recipe here. This morning I chopped everything up and got going. 
 5 cups of onions

 5 cups bell peppers.
 10 cups of tomatoes.
I did the same thing tossed in hot water and "blanched" them or at least I think that is what it's called.
I peeled them and roughly chopped them.

I simmered it for a while until it was nice and thick.

 Poured it in jars and processed it for 15 minutes.

The girls have REALLY enjoyed all the leftovers.
 The boys have loved all their free time. 

So there it is. My first few projects done. So far I have canned 20 pints of peaches, 3 pints of peach jam, blueberry jam, strawberry jam, 7 pizza sauces, 3 pints of pepper rings,7 pints of salsa and 14 quarts of tomatoes for things like chili and soup. It has been a lot easier than I thought. I have a lot more I want to do. I never dreamed I would ever be "canning". I am no expert by any means and have a bunch to learn. My sweet Granny is going to help me figure out pressure canning with my canner. After that who knows!!!!!