Sunday, October 30, 2011

Making Cookies with the Grandson

This afternoon grandson and I made the Spooky Witches Fingers CookiesWe had a really good time!  Here grandson is attaching the "fingernail" (almond) with the "blood" (red decorating gel)

 We laid the severed fingers out on wax paper for the "warts" (chocolate chip) and the "blood" (red decorating gel) to harden.  These witches fingers came in assorted sizes as you can see.

We put all of the severed fingers in a cauldron lined with bloody red tissue paper. 

Have we scared you?......

All wrapped up and ready for the class party.  I am sure they will be a hit with grandsons classmates!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Store what you eat....

eat what you store!

Do you know what this is?  If you answered chili then you are correct but it's not just any chili. 

I am still working on the food storage making it better organized  and taking an inventory as I go. My food storage room is also grandson's bedroom during the week.  For some reason I have missed rotating some chili.  I found this jar of chili dated November 2008.  It's almost 3 years old!  This is my oldest meal-in-a-jar so I have plans for Friday night supper and it will be a fun meal for grandson before daughter picks him up for the week-end.

Friday morning after I got Grandson off to school and helped Papa Bear with the chores,  I came inside to make homemade hot dog buns.  Why did I make the buns?  For one thing I was out and didn't want the 8 mile round trip to the store to find they may be out of buns and simply because I could.   I have made these buns before and they are really good.  They hold everything you can put on a hot dog and you can pick them up without them falling apart while you are eating them.  You can either shape them into hamburger buns or hot dog buns.  I use all the ingredients in the recipe but I use my bread machine on the dough cycle to mix and knead everything.  As soon as the machine stops, I remove the dough and follow the recipe from there.

Friday afternoon after re-hydrating some onions I started frying them in a small amount of vegetable oil. I opened two pints of sliced canned potatoes, drained and rinsed them and added to my onions in the pan and cooked until everything browned. 
Home Fries!

 I already had grilled wieners in the freezer so they only took a minute or so of thawing in the microwave and then we piled on the 3 year old chili and a sprinkling of grated cheese on top.  Except for the extra buns I put in the freezer....there were no left overs!

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Was Hacked!

My yahoo email account was hacked around 6:15am this morning.  I did not know it until I started getting emails from family and friends and then I started getting phone calls.  I could not even quickly email my contacts as my entire address book was gone.

Apparently I am traveling in Europe and was robbed.  Cash, airline tickets and all credit cards were taken, luckily I had left my passport at the hotel but I needed money to catch my flight today.

The crooks changed my email address by capitalizing one of the letters so unless you look very carefully you would think it is from me.  Papa Bear's address was in my address book too so he got an email from (me) and I replied back to the fake address to find out where to send (me) some money.  Once Papa Bear was on the way to the Western Union office he is suppose to send them an email and then when home  email them the confirmation number.  The crooks asked Papa Bear for $1400.00 with a promise that I could repay him as soon as I returned home.

Most everyone in my address book knows our home situation with us as caregivers for our son and we certainly would not be traveling in Europe.  I just hope and pray no one fell for the scam who doesn't have our cell phone numbers to verify.  We stopped using land lines several years ago.

I don't know how hacking works but I know I had to jump through hoops to try to contact Yahoo about this.  I had to verify my password several times and then give them my security question and answer.  Seems to me that if my location is in Florida 99% of the time wouldn't all kinds of bells and whistles have been going off at Yahoo when "I" logged in from Nigeria?

We have had internet for about 17 years and this is the first time we have had an event.  Guess we've been lucky.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Smart Man

Herman Cains ad has been playing on all the news networks today and he hasn't had to spend a dime of his campaign money to have it aired.  I think that is very smart!

American Farmers are going out of business

and I am responsible...are you?

I am so mad at myself.  Usually I check labels very carefully and unless I absolutely have to have something I try not to buy anything that is not from the USA.

The other day I made a run into town to have my blood-work done and went to Sam's Club for a few needed itemsTwo of the items were onions and garlic.  

I have onions frozen and dehydrated but as long as the prices are reasonable at the store, I still buy fresh and use those, saving my frozen and dehydrated ones for hard times.  I do have frozen garlic in the freezer and garlic powder in the pantry and stored foods but I wanted some fresh to plant.  My last years crop was grown, hung up to dry under the shed and accidentally was forgotten and froze  before I found them.  Had to give that mushy mess to the chickens.  I don't buy garlic from seed stores as they charge a ridiculous price for it.  Usually I buy a box of garlic from a place in California (who grows it and sells it) and then I dehydrate, freeze and plant from this garlic. 

While at Sam's Club, I had quickly looked at the labels of the garlic and onions and saw Florida on the garlic and New Jersey on the onions so I purchased them. 
The two pound bags of garlic would be much cheaper than ordering from California and they are nice looking garlic.

Today I picked up one of the bags of garlic and was about to open it to separate the cloves  for planting when staring back at me in big bold print....

Then I looked at the onions.

I now have these items sitting by the front door so I can return them to Sam's Club tomorrow when I go to my doctor for the results of my blood-work.  When the person at the service desk ask me the reason for the return I will tell them.  I will only support American Farmers and their onions are from Peru and the garlic is from China.  I kind of hope they give me a little trouble in the returns as I plan to have the phone numbers of the local television and newspaper with me.  

Onions and garlic can be grown just about anywhere in the US.  There is no reason to be importing these two vegetables from over the oceans.  I planted my onion seed a few weeks ago and I have now ordered my 5 pound box of garlic from California.  I hope to not run out of either one again and be vulnerable to the produce at the stores.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Canning Amish Poor Man's Steak and everything in between

update....Make sure you see my post written a year later on how the Amish Poor Man's Steak has held up.

 My blogging friend, Hoss Boss, over at Hoof 'n Barrel just thinks she had a rough canning day...LOL  I had a rough canning weekend that began Friday and ended around 10:00PM Sunday night.

I have been eye-balling this Amish Poor Man's Steak recipe ever since I bought the 80 pounds of ground beef a week or so ago and since another blogger (Kris Watson) recommended it and I happened to have had 30 pounds of ground remaining I thought...Go For It!

Now this recipe has everything in it the food police says not to can.  I did a lot of research on canning some things and have come to my own conclusion that this recipe is not going to kill me or my family.  I'm going to write a blog on this subject soon and give you the links to back it up.  Anyway...back to my canning adventure.   I knew I did not own anything large enough to mix up all the ingredients so I went down to the Dollar General and bought a 35 quart Sterlite Container.  After a little soap, bleach and drying I was ready.

I chopped 5 cups of celery

and 5 cups of onions

crushed 6 tubes of saltines which is 1 1/2 pounds

cracked open and whisked 2 dozen eggs

measured 5 cups of milk

All of these items were placed in my container as they were measured.  Hey...that looks pretty.  Now I know what a chef in a restaurant feels like adding huge amounts of ingredients.

the recipe just reads...salt and pepper.  Don't you just hate it when that happens?  So I added salt and pepper.  I don't exactly remember how I came up with my equation but it worked out pretty well  at the time.  I figured the saltine crackers are salty and the condensed mushroom soup is going to be salty so I added what I thought would be right and I will tell you how much when (if) I find the piece of paper I scribbled it on.....  Just in case you want to be as adventurous as me and try this recipe.

celery, onions, saltines, eggs, milk, salt and pepper mixed together.  oh yeah...I'm really feeling chef like

time to add the 30 pounds of ground beef

now I warn you... Run you a sink of warm/hot water near where you are working.  When you start mixing and mixing and mixing all of these cold ingredients with your washed, cleaned and naked hands you are going to want to plunge them into something very warm every few minutes.  My hands were burning with cold.  At this point I was feeling sorry for the chefs in restaurants who have to do this kind of stuff everyday. 

I didn't get a picture of the mixing itself as my hands at this point was to numb with cold to hold the camera but this is what everything looked like when I started making the steak patties.  I shoved all the ingredients to one side of the container and placed my patties on the other side using waxed paper to separate the stacks to prevent them from sticking.

 I used the wide mouth rim and lid again to form the patties, just like I did when I made the meatloaf last week.  Using this method will ensure the patties will fit into the wide mouth canning jars.

I only have one broiling pan and I have a lot, I mean a lot of meat to cook so I made another by using a large roasting pan with my cake racks over it.  The Amish recipe reads to bake on cookie sheets but I want to drain as much fat as possible from them.

Between the broiling pan and the roasting pan, I could cook 27 patties at once. 
I baked in preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes and alternated the pans about half way through cooking time.  It took me a little over 4 hours to cook them all.  I piled up 2 huge roasting pan and covered them with tinfoil and placed them in the refrigerator as they came from the oven.
When my last batch was baking (late Friday afternoon by this time) I started making the gravy.  I had strained off some of the fat from the broiler and roasting pan and set aside to make the brown pan gravy.  Trust much more than this.

I put 1/2 cup of the strained fat into a skillet and heated over medium heat until hot.
Next I added 1/2 cup of plain flour.  The secret to making a good gravy base is to stir, stir, stir and don't cook it too fast.  You can control this by lifting your pan on and off the eye of the stove.   You want to brown the flour slowly without burning it.  

I had already put 5 cans of the mushroom soup along with 5 cans of water in a pot to begin warming.  I think this was almost 2 quarts.  Trust me again.  The recipe doesn't say how much gravy to make but you are going to need to make a lot.  When I make this again I will try to get a good measurement.  I had to make gravy 3 times during canning and even ended up using two more cans of soup than the recipe called for.

I added some of the mushroom soup mixture to the browned flour.  Be gets angry during this procedure.  Keep adding and stirring and things will calm down.

I then added my base from the skillet to the pot of mushroom soup, stirred it in well and simmered while I reheated patties in the microwave.  I totally forgot to take a picture of filling the jars but you put a patty in the jar, cover that with the gravy mixture and then another patty and more gravy until the ingredients are one inch from the top.  I got 5 patties in a jar.

I only did one canner load Friday evening as it was getting late and I was tired and disgusted.   I no longer want to be a chef!  When I was filling the 5th jar I realized my magnet was missing from the little wand thingy that I use to get the hot lids and bands out of the water.  Here I am thinking that magnet has ended up in the 4th jar and I have no idea which jar is the 4th. So now I am thinking when they cool off I can kind of shake the jar and see if I can find the magnet but you know what?  Little pieces of mushrooms floating around will look like a magnet as well.  I guess I will mark these jars as "Magnetic Poor Man's Steak" and we'll be extra careful to look for the magnet as we open them for a meal.  They looked great coming out of the canner.  I processed these for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure on my dial gauge.

One jar didn't seal so we got to have a sample.  It is surprisingly very good and no...the magnet wasn't in that one.  Papa Bear knew I was really worried about the magnet so he pulled the stove out form the wall.  There was no magnet.  He then took a ruler and ran it along the side edges of the stove and out flew the magnet.  Apparently when it fell, it bounced and then stuck to the stoves bottom edge.  I don't have to mark the jars "Magnetic Steak" after all.  After all this drama... I am through for the day...On to Saturday.

Last week when I was canning Meatloaf, Italian Meat Sauce and Taco filling I grew so tired of having to watch the pressure dial.  You can't turn your back on it for one minute and you constantly have to adjust the heat up or down.  When you are having to process your items for 90 minutes this can be very tiresome and you are basically chained to the kitchen. Having to watch this dial actually got me searching on line for a new pressure cannerI wanted one with a weighted regulator so all I have to do is listen for the sound and rocking noise. Well low and behold in my search I found out that I could use a weighted regulator in place of the one I had.  I found one at Amazon with free shipping and with the points I had it ended up costing me a little over $8.00. 

I was hoping the new gadget was at the post office.  Our mailbox is 3/4 miles down the road and the post office does not deliver packages down our road so I waited until the post office opened and called to see if it was there.  Nope.  My last hope is that it is a small enough item to be shipped in a padded envelope and it still may be in Saturdays mail.  I decided to wait and work on the "Pazebo"

I thought we would be through with the Pazebo this week but we still have a few small things to finish. I got at least one coat of paint on everything Saturday in between deer watching.  It's turning out really pretty.  Next spring I will plant some flowering vines to climb the lattice.
 Papa Bear didn't get around to going to the mailbox until late afternoon and guess what he brought home?....My new best friend.
 After helping with the evening chores and washing the paint off of me, I gave it a test run.  It was too late for me to start another canning project so I filled up the canner with water only and tried out my new best friend.   It works!  I am actually looking forward to my canning adventures Sunday.
Sunday I finished everything, although it took me all day.  I pulled the last canner load out around 10:00 PM. ...but I didn't have to stand guard at the stove.  I was actually able to load the dishwasher, do laundry and piddle around some in the yard while everything cooked.  I even made and baked two loaves of bread so the grandson could have his peanut butter and jelly sandwich after school snack.

This recipe made 142 patties!  I canned 28 quart jars and the breakdown in cost is about $2.25 a jar.  But the thing that puts a smile on my face is we have 28 (27) more meals- in- a -jar added to our preps!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Never a camera when you have a great shot

Papa Bear and I were working on the Pazebo by the pond this afternoon when he asked "Do you see her?"  I was on the ladder painting the rafters and had to peek out from under the roof. 

"See Who"? I asked.  

"The little doe right over there", he pointed.

I swear.  A deer can be one foot away from me and I'll never see it first.  It took a good minute where he was telling me to look before I finally saw her.  She was beautiful and probably only 30 feet or so away and blended in perfect with her surroundings..  She would look at us every once in awhile and then go about her grazing.  I watched her for about ten minutes while my paint dried on the brush, wishing I had brought the camera down to the pond.  It is always a treat for me to get a picture of the deer who roam our property.  It's a good feeling to know we'll have these deer to feed the family should the need arise.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spooky Witches Fingers

Photo by Laura M
Grandson has to take cookies to school for his Fall Party.  We found these  Witches Finger Cookies on the All Recipes site and are going to make them.  They sound really easy.  One of the ratings left suggested the green food coloring and a chocolate chip for a wart.

I found "Eyeball Cookies" on another blog.   Maybe we'll make both for a "Spooky" party tray.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Granny's Coconut Pound Cake

I love this book.  I bought it at Sam's Club several years ago.  It is called "Recipe Keepsakes."  It is spiral bound and has dividers and indexes with pockets and many pages for you to write your recipes.  The only thing I wish it had that it doesn't is a section for canning recipes.
When I find a recipe to try,  I put it into the appropriate indexed pocket and if it is a recipe the family enjoys, I then write it in the book.  Sometimes I am in a big hurry and only cut out the recipe and tape it to a page, later when I get the time I will hand write it in.  I hope someday my daughter or one of my granddaughter's will enjoy making the recipes and will love having them handwritten in my own handwriting.  The recipes my own Mom has given me and the couple of handwritten recipes from my Granny are taped permanently in my bookThese I treasure.

Today it is raining, Thank you again Lord and since Grandson is almost out of snacks to take to school

I pulled out my Recipe Keepsake's book to make Granny's Coconut Pound Cake. 

Granny's Coconut Pound Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups Crisco  (I use the cheaper store brand unless Crisco is on sale)
  • 2 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups plain flour (measure before sifting)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sweet milk
  • 3 tsp lemon or vanilla extract (or a mixture of both if desired)
  • 1 cup finely grated coconut (I use the coconut in a bag)
Beat Crisco and sugar together for 10 minutes.  I don't know why it is for 10 minutes but Granny said to do it, so I do it.  I don't have a fancy stand mixer and neither did Granny so my arm gets a good workout with the hand mixer. 

Add whole eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

You will have a lovely pale lemon colored batter beginning at this point.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.  

while running your mixer; slowly add the cup of milk to your Crisco, sugar, egg mixture.  I use regular whole milk.  Granny had a cow when she wrote sweet milk on her recipes. I don't have a cow and I am out of fresh goat milk.

Now add your sifted flour, baking powder and salt mixture a little at a time and mix well.

Add flavoring and mix well... Today I experimented and used pineapple extract.  PS... It was yummy!
Add coconut.
Stir the coconut into batter.

 Grease and flour your pan.  I normally bake this cake in a bundt pan if I want a fancy looking cake or a 10 inch tube pan.  Today I greased and floured two loaf pans so I can slice it in uniform slices for Grandson's school snacks.
  I divided, well...kind of divided my batter between the two pans.

Bake the cake in a 300 degree, preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

After removing from oven. Let cake(s) sit for 10 minutes before removing pan(s).
Let cake(s) cool  before slicing

I slice mine into serving size pieces

place them in Ziploc snack bags and freeze them on a cookie sheet.

When they are frozen I remove them from the cookie sheet and stack them in the freezer.  I can remove a slice from the freezer and put in Grandson's backpack each day.  It will be thawed by his snack time.  Another plus to this is that the cake is not sitting out on the counter where we would for sure over indulge! These two loaves made enough slices for grandson an entire month of school snacks plus a couple of pieces left over for Papa Bear and I to have a slice each with a cup of coffee.

It is worth every minute of making a cake from scratch when a six year old comes home from school and says "Grandma, that cake you gave me for snack was awesome!"

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