So much has happened since my last post. I started a new job and I an learning to be a dialysis nurse. I have had a heart attack and triple bypass, and a few other health mishaps we shall call them. But I am still here, kicking and finally getting the farm, though only as a supervisor because of a health mishap, fully underway.
Our current projects include modifying the new barn to accommodate the chickens and goats. Getting fencing up around the new field. Which includes a pond for our silly ducks. And getting our garden beds prepared. We also have seed starts in the greenhouse.
For those of you that get our not so monthly, monthly newsletter, or on one of our customer emails may have seen that after last year’s abysmal garden we decided not to do a CSA program. We keep tossing it around, especially of late. What we will do is send out an email when we have a surplus of produce. The same with eggs. I will be setting up forms on our Contact page so that you can let us know which list you would like to be on.
I will attempt to post more often and get the newsletter out in a more timely fashion.
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There really is no debate on which you should choose. There are somethings are safe to water bath can but everything can be pressure canned. Why can’t I water bath can low acid foods? My grandma only ever water bath canned. I have heard pressure canners can explode. Tons of reasons to avoid pressure canning. But one big one to use it. BOTULISM!! A silent, odorless killer. Other things can happen as well but this is the big one.
What is botulism?
Botulism is a bacteria that can kill you. If nothing else it will make you feel sick enough you want to die.
It is a rare, potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin. The toxin is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The disease begins with weakness, blurred vision, feeling tired, and trouble speaking.
It is a nasty illness that we can avoid by properly preserving our food bounty.
Things that are considered high acid foods. Tomatoes are a big one, unless of you are growing low acid tomatoes, those varieties are a story for another time. Jams and jellies, pickled anything. Fruit preserves and most anything that you add lemon juice, vinegar, or are fermented.
Some fruits are considered naturally high in acid:
What should I pressure can?
Anything that is not on the above list. Those things can also be pressure canned. There are no safe ways to can fresh squash, including pumpkins. Those need to be prepared how you want them and then pressure canned. Or simply frozen.
Other items, not produce related, that you should pressure can are meats, soups, and broths. Your other option is to freeze them. All of this will prevent you, your family, friends, and customers from being poisoned.
Not the best example of this pie crust but it is the same one I use in every pie.
There really is only one way to make a perfect pie crust and it doesn’t involve margarine, butter or shortening. Yes, my friends it involves lard. Now take a deep breath it won’t kill you every once in a while to use some in pie crust and even in biscuits. This uniquely grotesque fat source it what really makes pie crusts and biscuits light and fluffy.
Now you are expecting measurements and such. I will do my best but if you make this the way the “old folks” did you won’t need them and you will have a perfect pie crust every time. I promise.
All purpose flour
Lard (room temperature so that it is soft)
Pour all purpose flour into a large mixing bowl so it forms a mountain. The peak of the mountain should be about half the height of the bowl.
Add 2 pinches of salt.
Take a large spoon and scoop lard into the bowl, I usually use two spoonfuls.
Use a pastry blade to begin to mix the lard and flour together so that it begins to form pea sized lumps. If you do not have a pastry blade use two steak knives and a criss cross cutting motion to cut in the lard.
Add cold water a tablespoon at a time to the mixture. Continue to mix with pastry blade.
Once the dough has begun to come together use your hands to form a large ball.
Cut the ball in half and place on a floured surface (I use a cutting board for easier clean up). And roll out until 1/4 inch think.
Dust the rolled dough with flour and fold in half and place the fold across the center of your pie plate.
Carefully unfold and press into the pie plate. Trim excess dough.
I promise you will have light, flaky pie crust that is to die for.
***Note*** You can place wax paper on top of the dough and roll it up. Store in a heavy duty freezer bag for later use.
There are many reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here are the top 5 reasons you shouldn’t forgo your first meal of the day.
1. Breakfast decreases appetite.
This is the time to fill up on high-fiber, nutrient dense foods. You will find that you have fewer cravings during the day for carbohydrate leaden food. You will feel full longer in the day.
2. You eat less.
This really ties into #1. Eat your wheaties folks! Or whatever it is you desire for breakfast just make it big, nutritious, and filling. Avoid empty calories pack your meal with proteins, high fiber, carbohydrates, and natural fat.
3. You will improve your brain function and make your day more pleasant.
Carbohydrates are not the enemy. High quality carbohydrates give energy for the entire day. They are necessary for brain function, improving your mood and lowering your stress. When your body doesn’t have the nutrition that it needs you will find you can’t concentrate, you get “hangry”, you just can’t function. Start your day off right and make it a good day.
4. You can decrease your risk of chronic illness.
There is research available that shows you can decrease your risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses that are plaguing not just the elderly anymore but young people as well. Encourage healthy eating habits from the beginning.
5. Yes, you will lose weight.
There is a myth in the US that you have to deprive yourself of food in order to lose weight. This is not true. With a regular workout routine and eating breakfast you will lose weight. How? Very simply your metabolism gets a boost from eating first thing in the morning. And of course regular exercise helps as well.
Pre-planning your menu will do several things for you. It will force you to double check your calendar. It will force you to go through your pantry, fridge and freezer (helps keep things fresh). It will also force you to make a grocery list (which will help you stay in budget). Quick note about budgets, I know they are hard but we will discuss those another day.
This is where I start. I get paid every two weeks so typically that means 42 meals (3 meals per day for 14 days) need to be planned out. You guessed it, breakfast, lunch and dinner all need to be planned. So now that we have figured that out I check out what I have on hand. If I am lucky I have some things left from my last grocery shopping. I try to add one or two extra meals to my budget each week and/or bulk items.
Next I get out my calendar to see what is going on during those two weeks. What is my work schedule, what is on tap for the kids, what is on tap for Daddy aka Papa. That will also determine what gets made on what days.
By now I am using what limited “extra” brain power to see what I have on hand to make and write down those meal ideas. I have a habit of starting with dinner ideas. Now I take a piece of paper and divide it in thirds. One column I put the day of the week with the appropriate date on it. List what I know I have for dinner, list what would work on each particular night depending on our schedules. Now in the third column I start writing my shopping list.
The next thing I do during the school year is pull out the lunch calendar. Lunches are frequently left overs when school is out but in honor of going back to school I am going to add this tidbit. I ask the kids which days they are buying and which they are taking. From there we get down to the nitty gritty and figure out what they want for those days they are taking. I write these down on the calendar so that I know what they have planned (yes they some times change their minds, too bad it gets carved into stone). I make sure to add any extra items to the grocery list.
Next we look at breakfast, ours is usually pretty basic. I need to have pancakes on hand (make them and then freeze them for future use). Eggs, bread and/or biscuits, cereal and the like. Though honestly if there are “favorite” left overs they will get eaten for breakfast as well. Mac and cheese anyone? If I am running low on any necessaries they get added to the grocery list as well.
Ok, so dinners are on the calendar, lunches are on the calendar and breakfast is fly by the seat of our pants. It really all comes down to schedules. Are these plans written in stone no, except for planned school lunches, those are written in stone. Now you have not only planned out your menu for two weeks, you have a realistic working grocery list and perhaps a budget!