Kitchen/garden clutter and zucchini jelly

Orange Zucchini jelly

In my last post I wrote of getting rid of more clutter, particularly in the craft area. Today my thing to mention is about the kitchen. I have no great stories of cleaning or organizing or even sorting, though I did manage to toss out two raggedy looking oven mitts that were causing more burns than they were preventing. I still prefer pliers to take out the steak plates and the small bread pans. Last week, I finally had enough of the zucchini on the counter. I took the two large ones and shredded them up and turned it into a batch of zucchini bread and one of jelly. There was even enough left to put two bags into the freezer for later.

The jelly (in the picture above you can see 3 pints and 3 1/2 pints) is a recipe I have posted before, but I will leave it at the very bottom for anyone new to this site. The flavor comes from the gelatin of your choice. It calls for orange, but you can really use anything that suits your fancy in terms of jelly. I didn’t happen to over boil this batch, so it is a bit more runny than some of my others in the past. I did notice that this time the orange flavor really reminded me of those little baby aspirin that we used to get way back before anyone knew that children should not be eating real aspirin.

Funny story on those pills. There was a near tragedy at our house way back when. My mother found my brother and sister with a bottle of empty baby aspirin and she wasn’t sure who had ingested more. My brother was older and when she asked them what happened, he pointed to my sister and said she is the one who ate them all. As expected, my mother swooped up her little girl and rushed to the hospital. There it was decided to keep her for the night and monitor her. They didn’t see the need to cause her excessive trauma by pumping her stomach since they were not sure how much or if she had actually eaten any of the pills. The truth is no one was sure how many pills were even in the container. She survived the night and when it was all said and done my brother confessed to having eaten the pills. He blamed her because he figured she wouldn’t get in as much trouble as he would because he was older. True story!!

Orange Zucchini Jelly (Sharon’s version)

6 cups of grated zucchini-no peelings, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple, 6 cups of sugar and 2 packages of orange Jell-O.

Boil the 6 cups of zucchini for 15 minutes on medium high. This may seem impossible without extra liquid, but believe me it has enough juice to make this work. (If you use frozen try to thaw it and drain as much of the excess liquid as possible, or boil it off. Add the lemon juice and pineapple and sugar and boil for 6 minutes. Stir this so the sugar does not stick to the bottom and use a fairly large container as the sugar doubles the volume. Take off the heat and add two boxes of Jell-O (flavor of your desire). I have used orange, apricot, raspberry, strawberry, and even lime. Ladle into jars that have been washed and are hot. Seal up with fresh lids, no need to process. If by chance your lids do not seal, put in the refrigerator and use within a month.

In the 15 plus years that I have used this recipe, I may have had a few jars go bad. Mostly the issue is making sure that your jars are clean, your lids are new and that you bring the mixture to a full rolling boil for the amount of time listed in the directions. As always if it is moldy or smells bad, do not eat it. That is a good general rule for all foods, especially those we can ourselves. Good luck and hope you are able to enjoy this jelly.

Catch up post on a snow day!!

Snow today

It was snowing most of the morning and has finally let up now that it is nearly noon. I took a picture of the back door of my mom’s house as I had to go and change the laundry there. I cheated and went over with the vehicle after I came home from getting the mail and stopping at the bank. I need to go back and switch the loads again and fold what is dry, but I am too lazy to leave the house at this time. If I would not have wanted the bank statements and to deposit some money, I might not have left the house today. Of course, I did need to go to the mail because some people seem to forget that winter shows up around this time in North or South Dakota. Paulina was home two weekends in a row, and never thought to take her heavy coat either time. Fortunately it wasn’t real heavy in terms of sending it through the mail. I found a second one that she had stuck away in another closet and forgot about. When I showed it to her on the phone as we were Face-timing, she declined wanting that coat. I promptly put it on and am keeping it for myself for now. It is super warm and has a hood. It is also black which seems to be the only color I wear lately. I am beginning to feel like the women of the frontier who always had their good outfits in black so they would have something to wear in case of a funeral. How bad is that. I don’t have black for that reason, it just seems that it matches with anything and so you don’t need so terribly many different outfits. Ha!! The worst part is that black shows every cat hair like there is a spotlight and a magnifier on them.

Apple pie

Last batch

I want to say I have been too busy to post lately, but that is only partially true. I have taken pictures of things going on around here, but I have just been too lazy to share them. The table of tomatoes is nearly gone. The last two times that I did any canning it was all whole tomatoes. The last batch was actually 12 quarts and 1 pint when it was all finished up. I didn’t think it felt like that much, but it took forever because so many of the tomatoes were really small. There are two boxes left on the table, but I am not sure if they will ever get made into anything. I also finished off the “bad” apples from the box I was given. I was going to do up all of them into some apple pie filling, but when I thought of how good they taste just sliced up, I decided to peel and slice the ones with bad spots on them and made a single pie. I will not give you a recipe since I didn’t really follow one anyway, and though it is edible, I have a little more practicing to do before it is really good. I had a few left over slices and ended up just eating them. So good. James agreed that we would just keep the rest on the counter eating them until gone. Last count gives us 9 apples, so they should last about 4 days or less.

I have also been trying to keep my hands busy at night while I am watching television and not playing on my iPad. This has been hard, but not really so hard since I started this crazy crocheted lap blanket. I recently ended up with all of the left over yarn from church now that we have officially finished up any possible quilting there. We did up all the quilt tops that had been made in the past by women of the church and so any left over yarn went to me, and the left over material that could be used to make more tops went to the Lutheran Church in Eureka. They still have a fairly active group, and we thought it was best that the material is used in a good way. I did take one small box home of the stiffer material. I hope to make some of the drawstring bags to give away in the future. I have a post about them some place titled “sling bags.” I will have to find that and at least get the date for it in case anyone is interested in it. Maybe if I ever get that table cleaned off in my room, I can work on that plan. For now I have made a bigger mess as I sorted out the yarn and reboxed some of it into thinner, medium, and thicker thread sizes. The lap blanket I am working on is the medium-sized yarn. I will have to post my three main projects, but not here. I am almost tired of my tendency to jump from one task to another or do several at a time. I finally see how it is more of a time waster, but I realize that I do it because I get bored doing one thing for too long. Oh such a life. Ha!!

Pizza Sauce and other tomato canning

Today was another day of working on the tomatoes. I looked back and the last post on tomato work was done on Oct. 2, 2017 and I wrote out the soup recipe at that time. I think today’s soup was much better, but that is probably my opinion. Today we took every last ripe tomato off the table, out of the boxes and out of the sleds. There is a post back someplace in this past month that shows how we were running out of space to store the tomatoes that were picked but not quite ripe, and so we grabbed the long plastic sleds from the garage and used them. It was a great way to transport them too.

I am happy to report that by the end of today, the sleds have been emptied and all of the tomatoes are in the house on the extra table under newspapers waiting to ripen. So far we have not had to throw very many away, which is nice. Each year several spoil with the ripen them in the house method, but the alternative is to allow them to freeze outside and they are all lost. I think this is a better idea.

So, I should have done this canning yesterday, but after Thursday’s marathon of house cleaning, I was not moving too well. Today we also had one extra hand as Paulina was home. I started the day with a batch of bread but that didn’t turn out so well this time. Paulina ended up cutting it into cubes and tomorrow she will brown them into croutons. We will see how that turns out. I tried it one other time with very little luck, but knowing her it will be great.

When we were finished with the tomatoes today, we had 5 quarts of juice, 4 quarts and 1 pint of soup, and 16 half pints and 3 pints of pizza sauce. This is the biggest batch we have done this year. James and I figure we should be at about 3 or 4 more times of processing tomatoes before the year is over. As for the soup recipe, it is on the post from Oct. 2. I looked and looked for my recipe for the pizza sauce and could not find anything. I looked at the single jar of it left in the pantry and found I had done those in 2015, so I was sure that I had posted it on the blog, but no luck there. I finally went to the Ball Blue Book and checked, and the only thing I could find was tomato sauce, so we went with that.

Truthfully, I have come up with my own concoction based on what I know about canning. The issue is that I never have a firm handle on how many ounces or pints or gallons of tomato liquid I am dealing with when I start. It is always sort of a hit or miss sort of thing. I wish that I had a way to measure the level of acid in what is in the pot, but I usually add lemon juice just to be sure of hitting enough acid to prevent any sort of spoilage or sickness.

Soup, pizza sauce and juice. The bottom of the sign says “seasoned with love”

For this sauce, which turned out to be 5 1/2 quarts of liquid, I used 1/8 cup of canning salt, not quite 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, about 1 Tablespoon of garlic salt and 1/2 cup of Italian seasoning. We used only Roma tomatoes for this batch. Throughout the entire process I kept pouring off the runny liquid and blended and sieved out the seeds of that and poured it into jars until we had exactly 5 quarts. Paulina peeled the Roma tomatoes, while I peeled the Celebrity and the Big Boys. Those that I peeled were blended separately and put into their own stock pot to make the soup. I also took the liquid off the ones I peeled, and added it to the juice. I think this is the first year that I have planted the Celebrity variety, and I find them to be a bit sweeter. The juice from them has been fantastic. I hope to plant more of them next year and a few less of the Romas, though they produce so much better. Actually for me the Big Boys don’t seem to produce very well, but I probably don’t feed them as much as they need. I will have to try some different methods with them. I also might try rotating where the stands go. I have some stands that seem to always grow smaller plants. I wonder if it has something to do with the medal that they leach into the soil? I guess that is enough of my tomato making story for one day. I need to get to working on my message for tomorrow. The gospel scripture is on rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Not sure how to drag that out for 10 minutes, but I will have to find something. Catch you later!!

A Day in the kitchen

All the breads

I knew it was going to be warm out today, but I also knew that there was a whole list of items for me to do inside, so I started early with the idea that I might make it outside later. So, later did not happen yet. Mainly I wanted to get the apples off the counter, but instead I started with making bread. Since I knew the oven would be where I would want to set the loaves of bread to rise, I wanted the oven hot baking something, so the day began with making banana bread. A double batch turned out 1 large loaf and 3 small ones, 2 with walnuts and one with chocolate chips for James. Next came the regular bread, 2 large loaves and 1 mini just for fun. While the banana bread was in the oven and the other bread was rising on the stove top, I peeled the mini potatoes boiled in their skins to make fried potatoes and green beans for supper.

Pie tastes better than it looks according to my husband, hurrah!

Apple sauce on the stove.

About when I thought I should be taking a break, I began to peel the small, somewhat not so good apples. This is the second batch of them, and apparently the first of what we picked. Most of these were salvaged off the ground and by many standards might have been tossed. I decided to do up what I could. The only bad thing about that set of apples was the paring knife I was using. I think I could whittle a wooden knife out of the wood in the shed stacked up for fire pitting, and I would have an easier time peeling. Oddly it is my left hand that hurts instead of my right that did most of the work. Apparently I do more with my left than I know. I ended up making a pie with them, which is ok, but I need a little practice on the crusts. I had more apples than the pie needed because I went through the batch of good apples and also peeled the smallest of them and any that had bad spots. I put the extra of what I peeled into a kettle and boiled them down into apple sauce and ended up with 1 quart and 1 cup, which I am enjoying as I type this. I added about 1/4 cup of lemon juice,  1/2 cup of apple juice and 1/2 cup of white sugar to the apples then put them on the stove on medium heat to boil down. Just wish I had some whipped cream in a can to add to this. There is nothing so delicious as hot apple sauce topped off with whipped cream.

About the time I was finished with the pie and ready to take a break James came home. He decided that he needed a hair cut and since the beautician is located right beside the campsite, which needs a final mowing for the season, he decided to drive across town with the mower and take care of both before supper. While he was gone, I cut the potatoes into the fry pan and added a small bag of frozen beans from the garden this summer with some butter and let it set to wait for him to return. Then I finally got to work on the part of the apples that was my original intent of the day. Boy talk about procrastination.

Slicing apples

In the dehydrator

My all time favorite thing to make with apples is dehydrated apples. I sprinkle a little cinnamon on them and sometimes put a little lemon juice on them before they go on the dehydrator. I could eat them all day, and really need to be careful to get enough liquid when I do eat them. James does not like them because he dislikes the texture of dried things. I think that is why I like them because of the texture. At any rate, I also really enjoy making these. I have an apple corer from Pampered Chef and that works so well. I also enjoy the rhythm of using the slicer or mandolin as I understand it is technically called. I have some family members who do not like it so much because they think it is dangerous. Again, mine is not real sharp and for some that might pose a problem, but I am used to how it operates and so we get along pretty well. I also know about when to switch from doing it by hand and using the sliding piece. When I had the bowl filled, I stopped to check home many would fit in the dehydrator. I actually had a few too many, which was great for me.

Eating the extra’s reminded me of sitting and watching my Grandma Freda make apple pie. She would peel the entire apple usually in one long peel. I would pick those up from her and eat them. After she had the apple peeled she would cut it in quarters and core it then slice it straight into the pie crust. She made the best pies ever, and it didn’t matter the flavor. Man I wish I had taken notes and kept better track of what she did. Perhaps it would be good to keep practicing, but basically it is too late for me. I am too old to start now to ever get to her standards.

Well enough of all this for one day. I am about tired and tomorrow I have a long day and evening at church. Happy Fall or Spring Gardening to you all as the case may be!!!

Sunrise and definitive proof of fall

Leaves on the ground.

A few days ago I posted a picture of the ash trees all dressed up in their orange and yellow leaves. Yesterday when we came home from school the leaves were all on the ground as the trees had emptied themselves for winter, I forgot to take a picture of the later until last evening just before is got too dark. I was upstairs in my room getting ready to sit down to watch the latest episode of the 13th season of The Voice, and I stepped outside to take this picture first. This would be a great weekend to have grandchildren over to the house, but instead we are all busy running one place or another. It is also getting harder and harder to just pack up either set of them and drag them to this place for a weekend. Hopefully by the time James and I are 81 and 80, it will be easier to transport them than us. We also have not made any headway in our efforts to move things around here to open up more room for overnight guests. Maybe this winter when we have nothing better to do in the dark of night. HA! I am sure by that time we will be baking something or canning something else or even putting out the seedlings for the garden next summer. This past week has been one of picking the rest of the garden and dragging everything inside to the house or garage or wherever it fits, which means the van gets to stand outside like an unloved child.

We made a little room on the table inside the house after when we did the last batch of tomatoes on Monday night. We started as soon as we got home and ended the evening fairly early–8:30 ish. The results were: 1 qt and 1 pint of juice, 4 qts. of spaghetti sauce and 3 qts. of soup, plus a 3/4 filled qt of each of those last two. Those have been put in the fridge and will have to go to the top of the menu real soon. I don’t understand quite how they happened. I measured out the spaghetti sauce into a quart jar before putting them into a kettle. Perhaps that reduces as you warm it. Learned something there. As for the soup, I wasn’t quite sure on that, and I should have known it would expand with the additions of butter, sugar (that always adds volume) and then the flour for thickening.

As I sit at the kitchen table to write this the sun is streaming through the east window nearly blinding me. I have been sneaking peeks at it rising almost like a space ship at lift off. It’s rays are so intense this morning they seem to blur in the cool fall morning. Interestingly, the winds came up with the sun. I was outside earlier to take these pictures of the pre-sunrise, and I don’t remember being bothered by a breeze. By the way they are in order as you see them from left to right.

Sunrise 10-11-17

Later I stepped out onto the east deck to snap the final shot (and the door closed and locked behind me, and I did not have on the large coat I wore earlier) I saw the branches moving on the trees then felt the wind as I ran around the house to get to the garage door and inside. All in all, it is a very pretty morning her in the northern part of South Dakota. I pray today for those recovering from the hurricanes, the earthquakes and now going through the horrors of the wildfires in California. May God see fit to bring them some rain to quench the demons racing through that area. I think we will be singing “Showers of Blessing” this Sunday in our way of asking God for some respite.

Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes!!

Picked Sunday afternoon.

Largest tomato of the year.

We have been picking in the garden as much as possible each night. I have been taking the tomatoes as soon as they are a little pink or orange, though some are nearly soft ripe before I find them. Tonight I moved a few of the plants from leaning left and tipped them right in order to get inside of them and find the ripest ones on the plant. The days are getting shorter and cooler, though the sun was out most of the day, which was nice, but not much is growing anymore. Mostly they are ripening on the plant and that is fine. I really don’t have room for all of them in the house until I figure out what to do with the cucumbers that really are not all that good. Add to that the stack of zucchini that is on the table and I see why we can’t fit any more tomatoes in the house. Checking out those pictures, I think that for supper tomorrow night we just might cook up a batch of jalapeño poppers.

When I got home from school tonight someplace between 4:30 and 5 p.m., I went to the garden to grab another batch of tomatoes. It looked much like the batch from Sunday, but this time there were more romas and less of the really huge ones. I brought them all inside and sorted what was on the table into the sink and put most of what I picked back on the table. I was able to empty on entire box on the table and most of the second one. The tomatoes in those shallow boxes have been ripening under paper most of last week. I had put the ripest into the sink thinking that I would can a batch on Wednesday night, but there were not enough to start the water boiling. Tonight I found enough. I had no idea as I was washing them and dropping them into the water that there were so many. As I took them out to cool, I used four cake pans and a large bowl. I always use those fancy cake pans, one is a bus, one a turkey and the other a bear, plus just one that is a rectangle. They cool much faster, and I refuse to dip them in cold water because I am such a contamination freak. This method has worked for me for years and that is how it is.

I did change a little this year in how I deal with what I used to consider the excess liquid in the pans. I used to drain it away, and now I realize it is from the tomatoes, so I strain it through the cone and put it aside to make juice. Tonight I made three quarts of juice and seven quarts of soup. I held back the final container of peeled tomatoes and one batch that was in the blender while I was filling the jars with the juice. I had two quarts full but only 2/3 in the third quart. I kept draining the liquid and a little bit of the runnier tomatoes through the sieve until I had that third quart full. I added 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, canning salt and sugar to each of those quarts then sealed them up to process.

7 qts. soup and 3 qts. of juice

The soup was interesting as always the ratio of salt and sugar is always determined by the flavor of the tomatoes. I dropped in one stick of butter, then added 1/4 a cup of lemon juice to assure it has the correct acidity for canning safety. I put in 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of canning salt then I whisked in 1 cup of sifted flour. That was a treat to coordinate. It became much easier when I began using the large whisk and switched hands. After a couple of taste tests, I added a bit more sugar and a touch more salt. In the end, I think I should have put in more flour. I didn’t want to over do the stiffness factor though because I was not sure how it would sit up after being processed. I used to really add lots of flour and ended up with really firm soup, almost like what you buy in the store. This batch has less liquid because I strained so much off for the juice. I wasn’t real sure on the flavor, but at the least it will be good when cooked up with a little milk and some chunks of fresh tomatoes. I did not used to like it that way, but it is pretty good on a cool fall day.

Well enough of this fun today. I hope to take some time tomorrow and share some of where we were this past weekend. It would be much easier if I had all of the pictures I tried to take. When I realized that my card was not in my camera it was already the second day of the reunion and I had missed lots of shots. Dang nab it. Oh well, I did still get some, and Paulina shared hers with me, too. Happy Gardening to you!!

Let the canning begin!

I finally washed up the tomatoes, took out the kettles, and did up the first batch of the 2017 season. In the end there are 4 quarts of juice and 6 quarts and one pint of the best spaghetti sauce that I have ever made. I say that because I know the flavor is always there, but this time, I figured out how to reduce the excess juice without boiling it forever, thus the 4 quarts of juice on the side. I strained off as much juice as possible and ran it through the jelly cone before I dumped the blanched-peeled tomatoes into the stock pot. In the end I  pureed a couple of tomatoes and added them to the juice to at least have some pulp. I also added 1/2 a teaspoon of canning salt, sugar and lemon juice to each quart.

Spaghetti and juice

For the spaghetti sauce I must have had about 6 quarts of tomatoes in the stock pot. I heated it on medium and added: 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup canning salt and nearly a full cup of Italian seasoning and a shake of garlic salt. I usually stir it up and heat it just below a boil then check the flavor before I put it in jars. Each batch to me is a bit different because the flavor really depends on the tomatoes. Tonight I didn’t need to do anything else to it. I filled clean quart jars and sealed them up. After 20 minutes of boiling in a canner kettle, I set them out to seal, and happily all of them have. James thinks that we should have spaghetti for supper tomorrow night. We shall see.

Previous Older Entries

Mobridge Vacation Rental

Avoid the hotels, stay in a home

Sparkonit

Science - Simplified

Carrie On Happy

The random thoughts and happenings of an eternal optimist...

timogarden

Ecological gardening and food processing in Sweden

Bee Organized with Pamela

To help you organize and contain your clutter. Sharing tips with you.

Alive and Piecing

Navigating Life with 4 Poodles, 2 College Kids, & an Obsession for Quilting

Empty Nest, Full Life

Formerly: PostDepartumDepression Thoughts about the "post Mommy" years of life

Stitching Grandma

Quilting and Sewing projects, paper crafting and travel

Mostly Not New

Exploring alternatives to constantly buying new crap

rachelmankowitz

The Cricket Pages

Missy's Crafty Mess

Introverted ISTJ - knitting, crochet, yarn dyeing, cross stitch, books, essential oils, cats, coffee, tea, Coca Cola, sprint cars & NASCAR - RAVELRY:missyscraftymess

Lillian's Cupboard

I store all kinds of things about cooking, knitting and some surprises in my cupboard. Check it out.

Wishful Thinking

A fine WordPress.com site

Pommie Sheila

The musings and escapades of an emigre down under

Ramblin' through Dave's Garden

Garden and Pond stuff

DaniellaJoe's Blog

crochet is my favorite fiber art and my goal is to become a real artist...

Garden Walk Garden Talk

The Greater Garden of Nature

Agrigirl's Blog

Placemaking for Healthier Communities and a Healthier Planet

SARAH THE GARDENER

Real Gardening in my Real Garden

Seasweetie's Pages

One Woman On A Quest for Peace, Joy and the Write Words

So It Goes

North Dakota Representative District 12 thoughts and ramblings

Tom Basson

“Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

My Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventures

Ramblings from an obsessed knitter

Nature and Wildlife Pics

Photos of Birds, Bugs, and Buds

Buzy Day

The adventure of NikkiM

I Love To Go A Gardening

Growing Our Life in Northern Michigan

Simply Grateful Housewife

Finding happiness despite the cobwebs and dirty dishes.

The Ramblings of a Knitting Goddess

I knit. I laugh. I dream.

It's not really about me...

...its about a creative journey of faith

Grassroots & Gardening

A passion for journalism and gardening

The Renegade Seamstress

Refashions Beyond My Wildest Seams

Go Go Little Red

Craftin' each day as if it's the last

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Birthplace of James Madison and Southern Plantation

The Inbox Jaunt

From Doodle to Design

Travel. Garden. Eat.

Enjoy the good things in life ~ you can always clean tomorrow!