What a wonderful week

Saturday: Today, we went to the Music in May Festival at Pacific University. Our oldest was playing principal French Horn in the band. All of the groups; the band, the symphony, and the choir were fantastic and there kids have only been together as a group for 48 hours.

Sunday: I spent most of the day canning, cooking and prepping the produce that I was able to glean over the last several days.

I made 6 pints of canned corn,

5 pints of spaghetti sauce,

started a batch of strawberry jam, another batch of strawberry/rhubarb jam,

started fermenting strawberries for syrup, froze some guacamole,

and “dry-canned” several quarts of lettuce and greens.

I’m trying an experiment with the greens that I have.  I used butter lettuce, arugula, caesar mix, spring greens and italian blend.  The all have pull dates ranging from 5/24 – 5/26 and were vacuum sealed on 5/26.  The greens went straight from the bag to the jar and were sealed using the food saver jar attachment. I want to see what types of greens last the longest and how long I can hold them before use.  Some of the greens came in clam shells and some in bags.  I suspect the bags of greens will last longer  – I think they might pump nitrogen gas into the bags before sealing the to help to prevent browning.

* Update 5/28 – Caleb thought the butter lettuce “seems a little limp” until I told him that butter lettuce is usually pretty limp.  He liked the Cesar mix much better.

5/25
roses – 6 dozen, assorted bouquet – 1 large, curly willow – 2 bunches, slaw mix – 2 bags (for the chickens)

5/26
corn – 12 ears (6 pints canned and for chickens), salad mix – 5 bags, brussel sprouts – 3 containers, mixed veg – 3 bags, rhubarb 4 cups, eggplant – 1, tomatoes – 12 (canned sauce), marjoram – 3 containers (dried), sage – 3 containers (dried), rosemary – 3 containers (dried)

5/27
salad mixes – 13 containers, baby spinach – 3 containers, baby arugula – 5 containers, strawberries – (jam and syrup), rhubarb – 2.5 pounds (jam and crisp), corn – 7 ears, broccoli – 2 heads, zucchini – 4, parsnips -2, green pepper – 1, guacamole – 3 containers (freezer), mixed veg – 3 bags

Monday:  Things are starting our well today, I received an email from a fantastic blogger letting me know that I’d won a music CD and a book – more later when she posts the winner’s (mine) name.

It’s also a holiday so everyone is home today.  I have an outing planned for the Goodwill (to look for more pint jars), the gleaning spot, and perhaps Safeway for Joe’s free eggs with their new coupon program.

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A House Returned

Amazing!  We finally have walls and cabinets back in our guest bathroom, laundry room and entry hall.  I just need to re-plumb the sink and finish the quarter round and caulking and it will be back to normal.

The picnic ham that we’ve been curing was ready after 21 days……

So I covered the exposed muscles with shortening and pepper (the tub of lard was too big, so I’m trying shortening.  The shortening is supposed to help the meat from drying too quickly and the pepper is supposed to help keep the bugs away.  It’s in the wine fridge so I don’t think there’s any bugs, but it’ll probably taste good…….

Then I wrapped it up in cotton cloth (fine cheese cloth) and tied it to keep everything neat.  Now it will just hang out for months, magically converting into either a delicious Italian treat or a rotting mess.

both canners were up and running on Saturday

This weekend I need  to make some things with the produce that we have gleaned this week.  I was able to make 8 pints of tomato sauce, 5 pints of pickled carrots, and 3 pints of pickled red onions.  I also made some vanilla ice cream this afternoon using 4 cups half-and-half, 1/2 cup egg beaters, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons of homemade vanilla.  The I froze it using the ice-cream maker.

tomato sauce

For the carrots, I boiled baby carrots for 5 minutes.  As they boiled I also make a pickling liquid with 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar and 2 Tablespoons of pickling spices.  The drained carrots go into wind mouth pint jars and get covered with the hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  The pints are processed for 20 minutes in the steam canner (15 minutes in a hot water bath).

Pickled Carrots

I used the same pickling liquid for the onions, adding it to thinly slice onions that had been blanched in hot water for 2 minutes.  The pints were processed in the steam canner for 15 minutes.

Pickled Onions

Percy just hung out, waited for anything to fall to the floor (doesn’t she know they’re vegetables) and offered the occasional critical comment. Thanks Percy.

Making Sausages and Ham

We finally hired someone to fix the walls!  He’s coming to start tomorrow.  He’s going to fix the walls, then in the summer, he’ll be back to paint the house and put a cover over the hot tub deck.  We think that’s going to be the next leaking disaster so we’re trying to head it off.

I’ve been busy today making jam and drying apples from some produce that we gleaned.  I turned the containers of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries into two pints of jam.

The apples (over 100) had some great apples to eat fresh, and a lot more to peel and slice for drying.

We also got zucchini, yellow squash, onions, lettuce, oranges, tomatoes and eggplant.  Tomorrow the tomatoes will become sauce and I need to figure out what to do with the eggplant. Hmmmmm???

Last Sunday we did another round of “Adventures in Meat Preservation”.  The Pancetta is looking pretty good…..

Pancetta 4/29:  Day 7

I picked up a few pounds of ground pork on clearance, so we got some casings and made fresh sausage.  Not too bad for a first try.

Italian and Moroccan Sausages

I also found a fresh picnic ham on clearance so I decided to try to dry-cure it.  I coated it in salt, pink salt, and brown sugar and will wait about three weeks before adding it to the cheese cave to cure.

Ham – Day 1