Sunday, October 29, 2017

Frustrations in Blogger Land

  For over a week now I have been fighting with Blogger...I have 2 blogs, one life and one food. I had drafted a post (on Elegant Blessings) and meant to come back to finish it later, but when I came back and tried to get into the posts section, it reverted me to THE OTHER BLOG. I have tried to figure out WTH is going on here and cannot. It is driving me crazy. So... since this blog is the one it sends me to, here I am. (I'll show them).  lol       It has also taken all the followers names of the other blog (Elegant Blessings) and replaced it with a Google Error 502.  I'll keep chipping away at it, but in the meantime I'll just write here. 

  Deep down, I hate technology. lol  It's smarter than I am and that's never good.  Things like this tend to drive me around the bend. I usually eventually figure it out, and then when it happens again I can't remember what I did.  Or I didn't know in the first place. lol   I could easily live the life of a Luddite.

(The Luddites were a group of English textile workers and weavers in the 19th century who destroyed weaving machinery as a form of protest. The group was protesting the use of machinery in a "fraudulent and deceitful manner" to get around standard labour practices.[1] Luddites feared that the time spent learning the skills of their craft would go to waste as machines would replace their role in the industry.[2] It is a misconception that the Luddites protested against the machinery itself in an attempt to halt progress of technology. However, the term has come to mean one opposed to industrialisationautomationcomputerisation or new technologies in general.[3] The Luddite movement began in Nottingham and culminated in a region-wide rebellion that lasted from 1811 to 1816. Mill owners took to shooting protesters and eventually the movement was suppressed with military force.)  FYI

  Or could I ?  Probably not, although I still refuse to use a Kindle when I can hold a book in my hands.  I can't imagine life without  my computer, though if it went away it probably wouldn't take me any time at all to adapt.  I own a cell phone, but it does not own me. And so it goes...

  So-- I have been busy, of course. Canning a few things, cooking a lot. Had an MRI on my neck and not liking the results of that.  At some point in my future there may be surgery involved. Unless I can figure out a better alternative, because the thought of one of these yahoos anywhere near my spinal cord with a knife disturbs me greatly. Life on life's terms. Dealing with people, places and things to the best of my ability. Mostly.  Somedays, that's as good as it gets.

  I made a huge batch of a Farm Country soup that we like and we ate some and I canned 7 quarts of it and put the rest in the fridge. I bought some leg and thigh chicken quarters and thought to make some soup and can it, but it all fit in my freezer, so I didn't do that [for now].  I packed up a gift box of jams for my brother-in-laws house warming present and sent a couple of jars to the 'rents. Himself went north to spend his dad's birthday with him, and in the meantime dad has had a small stroke, so it's a good thing he made the trip. The critters and I are here on our own and have some grand plans for the next few days. I was thinking I could live on the leftover soup and not have to cook a lick the next 4 days. lol  

  I spent yesterday in the company of some of my favorite women in 3 different batches. But today I plan to get busy around here and get some things done I can never get done with that man under my feet. I had a dream a couple of nights ago that I labored furiously the whole time he was gone, and transformed our little raggedy home into a shining work of art.  I woke up dizzy at the thought of how much work that would take. lol   I do have a couple of definite projects in mind though. It's been hard getting motivated with this neck thing going on, because I do not sleep well and it makes me tired beyond belief and cranky.  So there's that... Usually once I get going I can get quite a bit accomplished, so we'll see what happens.

  I have to admit I've been in a bit of a funk lately.  And it shows in my house. But yesterday, by days end, I was feeling a little better.  If I can put my house in order, it will help too. If I can get out today in the sunshine, talk a short walk, eat some healthy food...all simple solutions.  I need to do some serious decluttering, something I have a hard time with. I chalk it up to the fact that being the oldest of 6, I never had anything of my own for very long. Once I was grown, I never let anything go that I didn't have to.  Funny how that goes.  I don't want a BH&G house. I just want some degree of chaos free comfort and cleanliness. Cleanliness, of course, being a relative term. I have 3 dogs and 3 cats. They are inside and outside . There will be pet hair.  The puppy has terrorized my home and torn up more stuff than I would ever have imagined possible (wooden tables, couches, chairs and rugs). Plus I live out in the country, away from paved roads and amidst farm fields. The dust is always bad. This time of year is especially bad due to corn and soybean harvesting. Dust is a way of life. lol  Still, there are things I can do to manage it better. And once I get it straightened up, hopefully I can keep it that way.  The tail end of the canning season is  always a mess as well, jars and foods and utensils and canners... My kitchen is a mess from June til November most years.  Clutter mostly. Not real filth, lol.

  So...this morning I will sit down and make a list, prioritizing what needs doing and making a separate list of projects. I have shelving that needs cleaning and painting (think bookcase type shelves, full of cookbooks and canned goods and miscellaneous stuff)  and a front porch (2 rocking chairs and a table) that need cleaning and painting. I might even go into town and get some pumpkins for some harvest decorations. We'll see how much I can accomplish. 

  You just never know...

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Old Cold Taters

My potato garden (about 35 feet of garden bed)  was a total bust this year. Himself thinks it was chipmunks, I think it was bad juju and lousy weather.  Whatever it was, all that work was for nothing and we got about 4 pounds of spuds  when we would normally harvest around a hundred. Everything has been strange this year. And my pantry was looking a little bare.

  People are often so intrigued with my canning and gardening and food storage habits.  And inevitably they will say (at some point in the conversation)..."Oh I wish I could do that, but I don't have room for a garden...I don't have a canner...I don't know how..." Some people really want to do it but don't know how to get started. Others want to want to do it, but it's too much work. lol  And it is. I have often thought that you have to be a certain kind of crazy to do this stuff.  

  I am that certain type of crazy. I admit it. When the store ads come out (here it's the Aldi's ad that comes on Saturday and the 2 local markets come on Monday) I'm like a kid with a Sears Christmas catalog.  I got this weeks ad Saturday and nearly wet myself.  Aldi's had red potatoes in 5 pound bags for 99 cents.  99 CENTS PEOPLE !!!!  I did a little dance. Red potatoes are my favorites. They don't keep as well as russets but they still keep pretty well.  (The other stores red potatoes are like minimum 2.49, just to put this in perspective for you.).   They also had button mushrooms for 69 cents a package. I bought a few (6) of those too.  I am not a fan of canned mushrooms, but they can be handy to have in the pantry when you need them for a soup or something, or in winter when the price of 'shrooms skyrockets, and I refuse to pay that much.  I bought 12 bags of potatoes. 60 pounds. I am going to keep a couple of bags in the cold room and can the rest. 60 pounds of taters for under 12 buckaroos.  I started the canning today, after a visit to my bone cruncher and a long nap. I only got about 20 pounds done, and it yielded 14 quarts of diced potatoes. Potatoes for soup, for breakfast potatoes, for potato salad..for anything I want to make with them. lol
 The first thing I did was to put the taters into a sink full of cold water with a healthy cup of vinegar in it. Then I proceeded to scrub the life out of those potatoes.  They have to be very clean to can with the peels left on, which is what I intended to do. 
Got the regular mouth jars all washed, lids in simmering water, and pressure canner at the ready as well.

I cubed the potatoes and put them in a bath of ascorbic acid and water, then drained them and put them in the jars. Filled with cold water, left an inch of headspace, added a half teaspoon of fruit fresh (ascorbic acid) and canned them at 10 pounds of pressure for 40 minutes.

Voila ! All sealed and pretty. in 24-48 hours, they'll be labeled and dated and go in the pantry. 

  So, even if you can't grow a garden (for whatever reasons) you can still can produce for your winter stockpile.  One year I got a 25 pound bag of organic carrots for 17 dollars and canned carrots to my hearts content. There are farmers markets. There are neighbors giving away stuff. There are all kinds of ways to stock your pantry with food to feed your family if a catastrophe strikes. If you cannot fathom canning or dehydrating food, buy it. Buy it while you can, as you can. The average big box store carries THREE days of inventory. If trucks cannot deliver food, then what ? If the electrical grid goes down--then what ?  I am responsible for feeding my family, that's my job. I don't entrust that responsibility to anyone or anything else. I care about what I feed myself and them, so when I do this stuff, I do it for reasons that make a difference to me. I am watching what is happening in Mexico and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of weather disasters...I don't want to be a helpless victim when something happens here in my yard. And it's just a matter of time. We are having earthquakes in Illinois at an alarming rate. Tornadoes are a given. Flooding and devastation from the rising waters of the Mississippi is historical fact and a certainty. I am looking at the variety of foods in my pantry and thinking what else do I need ? I have protein sources (beans, meats, fish and quinoa).  I have vegetables (tomatoes, green beans, dried greens, carrots and tomatoes both canned and dried. Bell peppers dehydrated. Onions and mushrooms dehydrated. Celery dehydrated. I have fruits-- peaches, apples, pears, pineapples, persimmons, pumpkin - all canned and dehydrated. Not dependent on electricity to keep it from rotting. Oats, rice, flour, sugar, honey, olive oil and vegetable oil. I even canned butter. The texture is a little different, but it will still be better than no butter. I even canned coffee creamer for heavens sake. lol  And I keep canned evaporated milk on hand at all times for cooking. We don't drink milk, but I do use it sometimes. I keep shelf stable packages of almond milk and coconut milk stocked for cereal (granola. That I make.). I have 7 kinds of jam/fruit butters.  I buy all natural peanut butter and keep it stocked and any time there is at least 6 jars of peanut butter in there.

  I guess all I'm saying is--it isn't that hard to stay ahead of the bad times. Whether those times are financial or disaster driven or what ever.  And I'm gonna leave you with this:  

                                                          Little Jimmy Dickens