Posted in Back in the Day, Canning & Preserving, Food Facts, From Scratch, Hen Cackle, Historical, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About, Uncategorized

Water Bath or Pressure Canner? And a Vintage Water Bath Chart.

1304176654-hey-who-s-the-designer-here-before-after-design-talk-oyxnog-clipartAre you like me? Ready to pull hair and scream over this whole: Water Bath or Pressure Canner debate? I feel you. I really, really feel you. And I can even understand why newbies to Canning are so freaked out. It’s not like the “Canning Police” and the “FDA” attempt to ease our mind any. They have more Do’s and Don’t’s than Grandma and her switched did.

 


And for those of us who were raised on our previous Ancestors, and how they did things, that’s a real struggle. I’d like to see the “Canning Police” or the “FDA” tell my Grandma or one of my Great Aunt’s how to Can. I’d love for them to say….


  • “You aren’t allowed to Can Potatoes”
  • “You aren’t allowed to Can Tomatoes in a Water Bath and if you Can, which better be in a PC (Pressure Canner), then that better have added Acid in it.”
  • “No Onions allowed!”
  • “Stick to a recipe to a T. If it calls for four cloves of Garlic, you better stick to 4 cloves. If not, you will kill the whole family.”

And last but not least….

  • “Best not EVER use a Water Bath to Can meat!!!!!”

My Grandma would have beat down the entire government. Canning police? Wouldn’t be a switch left on the tree.


Still, today, in nearly every Canning Group out there, the Nazi’s still shake a finger and the FDA is still beating fear into the Masses. And while I WILL NOT tell you what you can or can’t do, I did stumble onto this cool little vintage chart of rules for Water Bath Canners that probably swam around in every kitchen back in Grandma’s day. And I will offer one bit of advice. Not a demand,. Not a threat, just advice….

If you are Canning, do what you feel most comfortable with. I’ve used a Water Bath for everything before I finally bought a Pressure Canner a year ago. I don’t add acid to my Maters. I Can potatoes religiously. And the only difference I can offer you is this one:


PC’s Can in a shorter amount of time. Example: Canning Green Beans in a Water Bath Canner can take up to 4-41/2 hours. In a PC, 25 minutes.


Yep, that’s it. If you are on unfamiliar ground where Canning goes, a PC may make you feel safer but for those of us who were taught by Grandma and those before her, we also feel just fine the Water Bath way. So when it comes to Canning, so what the hell you want. Ask for advice by finding a great support group but a great support group doesn’t bleed and spew nothing but fear. If a Jar is bad, you will smell it. Sometimes you will see it but in case your glasses are fogged that day, the smell will tell you. That’s always worked for me.

And if a recipe calls for 4 cloves of Garlic, don’t think the entire family will die if you add 10. For the love of God, folks, stop trying to duct tape everyone into the same box. winks


 

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Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch, The Scoop from the Coop, Things to Crow About

(HE) is a Big Crock of Doo-Doo

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I’ll never forget the first apartment I got that allowed me to have my very first Washer and Dryer set. In my early twenties, THIS was a big deal. No more Laundry Mats. No more quarters. No more carting trash bags of dirty clothes around. No more stretching my clean ones until I had a day off that I’d be cursed to spend in the Laundry Mat and not somewhere fun and interesting like the rest of my friends.

Of course, I couldn’t afford a brand new Washer and Dryer. Luckily, a family member was just starting out selling appliances. They sold me something they couldn’t exactly get rid of because of the way it looked and it’s age—a beat up, ugly ol’, lime green Maytag Washer. This thing looked a hundred years old. It was heavy, clunky and there was absolutely nothing fancy about it. Luckily my Laundry Room had a door because this set was an eyesore, complete with an off-white Dryer that had more dents in it than my first car, a used Chevette.

They weren’t pretty but baby, they could sure take a lickin’ and keep on gettin’. My now husband and I decided to move in together not long after. Now, he’s a Country boy, or what I like to call, Mountain Man. On top of bein’ a Mason, that man can dirty up some clothes and if anyone is married to either or, you know they wear lots of layers, too. So right off the bat, I had a ton of clothes to wash, every single day. And the stains weren’t sweet and easy like. They hooked their claws into the threads of the cloth and held on for dear life. But my ol’ green Washer wasn’t no new girl to any block. She was somethin’ fierce. She’d take fifty tons of clothes and jerk them suckers around like a wolf with a chew toy. She’d barely bat an eye at a stain. She’d go all in with fists ready. And that Dryer got hotter than hussy sittin’ up in church in the middle of August while  a Preacher yelled a warning of damnation to every harlot and drunkard within ten miles.

When we moved back to my husband’s hometown, way out there in Deerfield, Virginia, our very first house had the worst iron water this Country girl has ever seen. I swear to each and every one of you, this iron would come shootin’ out them pipes the size of a damn baseball. Big baseballs of chunky, orange rust. As if we’d walked outside with our clothes on while some snot-nosed kid threw handfuls of orange clay at us. That’s what the hell our clothes looked like. My husband was always muckin’ with the plumbin’ because this god awful stuff would clogged everything up and wear it ten times over like that of tar. Everything we had was ruined and I just knew my Maytag wouldn’t last long. How the hell could it? If this is what that water was doing to the pipes, commodes, sinks and tubs? No way could my lime-green fighter take much of a beatin’ with all that concerned. But I was wrong.

We lived in that house for two years and my Maytag kept on gettin’. I was constantly buyin’ rust cleaner givin’ her a run through even though it hardly made a dent in the toilets, sinks and everything else. Once we moved, to my absolute sadness, my Washer finally bit the big one. She passed onto Washer Heaven and just flat out died. If only I knew what I had then, I might have hired someone to come out and fix her—if she could have been fixed. Instead, foolishly, like a fifty year old man in a midlife crisis, I traded her in for a newer model. Just like those men, my life has went hill every since.

That was over fifteen or more years ago. (Do we really have to depress things further by countin’ up the exact years?) *winks* Since, I haven’t had a Washer last more than four years and the last two, no more than two. In fact, the one I have now, went belly up while it was still under warranty, and for once, the Manufacturer didn’t find a way to screw me out of that. Well, they did in the end, but at the time, it all seemed legit. They sent out a Service Man who literally ended up replacing EVERY. DANG. THANG. THAT. EVER. WAS! I’m not kiddin’. He replaced every dern part when it was all said and done. The part I got screwed on was, he wasn’t certified to work on that particular brand and the reason he replaced everything was, he didn’t know what the hell was wrong in the first place. So, I still have problems but the new girl isn’t under Warranty anymore, so I’m basically draggin’ her along for the ride for as long as I can. *winks*

Anyway, the moral of the story, I’d give anything for that ol’ Maytag back. Sure she was an eyesore, ain’t we all at one point or another? But she worked like a dream and harder than anything they make now. All this (HE) crap is a joke. This less water BS is exactly that….BS. If you can’t wash a full load of clothes, then how the heck is using less water efficient? My Maytag girl would break my clothes down to two loads now – and I have two kids still at home and my husband, who still gets as dirty as mud. Even if my oldest was still home, my Maytag would blow the doors off this sad little joke of a Washer I got now. Now, I have to do four to five loads of clothes—compared to what my Maytag could do in two. Now to me, if I’m washing two to three times more loads of clothes a day then that’s not highly efficient. That’s a high kick in my arse. And Stains? You wanna talk about Stains? If I don’t pre-treat it with the new girls, then I’m cursed to live with the Stain forever and sometimes, even if a bunch of elbow grease and fightin’ of my own, the Stain still won’t pack up and leave. But Mrs. Maytag could whip a Stain with her eyes closed even if I didn’t catch it to pre-treat. She’d whip that sucker six ways till Sunday. Shoot, the other Stains on the second load would catch wind of that and jump clean off the clothes all on their own before they had to dance with her.

Those were the days. What I wouldn’t give to have that ol’ girl back—eyesore or not—because lord knows, all the younger models that took her place, these supposed (HE) wonders, are a big crock of doo doo.

 

P.S.

The picture above was snatched off Google—obviously someone is selling one. The one in the pic above looks a whole lot better than the fist-swingin’, fighter I had.  Oh sure, I’d take the chance and buy it but who’s to say she is what they say she is—that she can replace the ol’ lime- green queen I once had.

Those were the days……

*winks*

Ya’ll come back now, ya hear?

Posted in Back in the Day, Depression Food, From Scratch, Historical, Pork, The Hungry Hen

How to Cook an Aged, Country-Cured Ham

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Funny, how one day I noticed just how popular Country Hams were. I was standing at the concessions stand at my daughter’s softball game. Waiting on my Fries, a kid beside me looked up at his mother and said, “Mom, did they make the Country Ham sandwiches again?” Over Hot Dogs, Burgers or Fries, some freckled faced boy wanted salty, country pork. And my slap to attention didn’t stop there. I was at the local, summer Carnival when I seen a lady I had not seen out our way before. I asked what drug her out of the city limits and she replied, “Oh, my husband and I try to stop in every year just to get us a Country Ham Sandwich.” When my Great Aunt Joyce came down to visit not long after, I asked if she was hungry and wanted a sandwich. “Do you have any Country Ham? I haven’t had that for ages. I am just dying for some!”

Country Ham is most certainly right up there with Fried Chicken and Sweet Ice Tea. The problem is, not many folks make one anymore. They wait till they hit up a Family members house, a carnival or, well, as I learned, a ball game somewhere in the South. I suppose one reason could be the size of a Ham. They are rather large and most folks don’t have the freezer space to store the left overs. Most can’t even eat a third of one on their own. But the biggest reason, I think, people make them less and less at home is because they don’t know how. Honestly, it takes a bit of doing and many have lost the know-how.

The trick to a Country Ham is, you want to soak it overnight. You want to soak it for at least 12- 18 hours. You want to cover it in water—and folks, sometimes I change my water out a few times, depending on how salty you want it. I’ve also have soaked mine for two days, as well, before. And, I have actually soaked mine in a five gallon bucket. Not everyone has the sink room, ya know?

Next, and this is a part many forget because the “knowing’ has been lost between generations. Get yourself a pot. Drain the Ham from the water you have been soaking it in, place it in the pot and cover over again with fresh, cold water. You are going to want to SIMMER the Ham for ONLY TWO HOURS. I don’t care if that thing is the size of a watermelon, only SIMMER for TWO HOURS. DON’T BOIL. SIMMER. 

When the two hours is up, pull the Ham off the stove and just let it sit in it’s own juices – that pot of water—and completely cool down. Once it has, cut off the rind and clean it up. You can glaze it…

Honey – Just drizzle Honey over the Ham.

Brown Sugar – 1 Cup Brown Sugar (I like Dark), 1-2 tsp. Dry Mustard and 1/2 tsp. Cloves (optional)

Or whatever Glaze you want to invent. I’ve seen some people make Glaze out of Jams like Orange, Apricot, Apple Butter, whatever. It’s you’re world, so roll with it.

Last, place it in a preheated oven at 400 degrees and Bake (about 30-40 minutes). When you cut Country Ham, don’t cut thick slices. It should be cut in super thin ones. Not unless you are into thick. Freeze any extras in pieces to make Beans or whatever you desire or to pull out when company comes over to make Red Eyed Gravy or Biscuits.

Posted in Back in the Day, Canning & Preserving, Depression Food, From Scratch, Seasonings, Sauces, Dressings & Mixes, The Hungry Hen

Sugar Cure From Scratch

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Here in the South, we are no strangers when it comes to raising hogs. While less and less people seem to do it now days, some of us know nothing else. In fact, if you ever tasted fresh sausage, you’d know exactly why we bother holding onto a tradition deeply rooted in our Past and Present.  And, since we live in an Age where so many of us are trying to make our own, anything, below is a recipe to make your own Sugar Cure.

My Uncle Eddie is the King of Raising Hogs and always will be in my eyes. Come butchering day, the family, or what’s left of us, all goes out to help. My husband helps cut the males when it’s time. He helps cull and hang them. He helps cut up the meat and we all, in some way, play a part because Uncle Eddie doesn’t send his Hogs off to Butcher. In the back of his house, he has a little building. Over the years, he has added equipment as he has found it to make the entire process easier. On one side, the men work up the meat and on our side, I help my Aunt T to wrap it up for the freezer.

They use everything they can of the Hog and even make their own Lard for the coming year. This recipe is dedicated to them because we all know how Uncle Eddie loves his Sugar Cure—and what he makes, he adds to my favorite Green Beans, which I will gladly fight over.

(Makes enough, roughly, for five hogs)

25 Ibs. Courses Salt

20 lbs. Brown Sugar

2 boxes Red Pepper

1/2 box Black Pepper

2 boxes Salt Peter

Mix everything together. If you want it more fine, toss it into a Food Processor. Rub into the Hog meat as needed or until all of it is gone.

Posted in Back in the Day, Canning & Preserving, Seasonings, Sauces, Dressings & Mixes

Back in the Day Sandwich Spread

Country Fried Chicken72This one is from my neck of the woods and unfortunately, I don’t see it around much anymore. People used to put this on sandwich’s, Burgers, Hotdogs….anything you can think of and may like it on. This is especially great if you have too many green tomatoes in the garden. Now you know what to do with them.

Ingredients

  • 12 Green Tomatoes, chopped, seeded, skinned
  • 12 Red Peppers, chopped & seeded
  • 12 Green Peppers, chopped & seeded
  • 1 quart Vinegar
  • 1 quart Mustard
  • 1 quart Mayonnaise
    • Celery Seed (pinch or two)
    • Salt (pinch or two)

Directions

Seeding and skinning the tomatoes are optional. Some do it and some don’t. I prefer to do this. If you are like me, just boil some water and quickly blanch the tomatoes. The skins will peel right off. As for seeding, I quarter the tomatoes and then scrape the seeds out. It’s that easy.

After you have skinned, seeded, and chopped the Tomatoes and both, Red & Green Peppers, throw them in a food processor and grind until they are fine and smooth. Now, while some like theirs chunky, I like this to be smooth like a true, blue spread.

DRAIN WELL. This is a must. You don’t want wet, runny spread.

In a pot, add all the ingredients together and cook for five minutes. Place in Jars and seal with a Water Bath Canner or a Pressure Canner.

Feel free to share but PLEASE give credit. Thanks!

Posted in Back in the Day, Chicken Scratch

Homesteading : Finding the Perfect Balance between the Modern World & Homesteading

Egg Money picture (Medium) (2)I often wonder if it’s the curse of my generation (I’m in my forties) to feel as if I’m bouncin’ between the past and the present. I don’t belong – neither here nor there. While my mind easily drifts to how they did things back in the day,  I do enjoy certain things in the Present World like…

  • Technology – an information highway, a universe of information just a click away.
  • Plumbing – I love bein’ able to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and not up some icy hill to an Outhouse in the dead of winter.
  • Electricity 
  • Central Air
  • Lights
  • Runnin’ Water–Hello!
  • Freezers & Refrigerators– Ice machines are my winnin’ lottery ticket

Yet, even as I type away on my beloved and very much appreciated computer, I can’t help but long for the simplicity of yesterday, too. I long for the old recipes our Elders perfected, Smoke Houses, Homemade Soap, raisin’ my own Food, Growin’ a garden. I miss showin’ up in public wearin’ a pair of cut off shorts and that be totally acceptable. No one gave a damn what Brand my shorts were.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that those gals, way back when, burned their bras and slowly but surely, women could be career girls because of it. But I also cringe with sadness because now we have to feel guilty or lazy if we want to stay home and raise our babies. The term Career doesn’t apply even if a woman wants to make one out of raisin’ a Family, keepin’ up a Home and everything that entails. I love the fact that we have or can fight for equality but hate the fact that now, we can’t even make a plate for our other halfs durin’ Supper without feelin’ a kick to our pride. Love the fact that I run the show here at home but hate the fact that sometimes, I’m often chained down by it.

See? Can’t help but feel neither here nor there. And yet I am always seeking the perfect balance, trying to avoid those who demand its all or nothing one way or another—gotta be all extreme!

file9111274157006I was reading a book this weekend called, The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading, by Nicole Faires. Its an Encyclopedia of Independent Living. Within’ the first few pages, she talks about the History of Homesteading. In short, 1862, during the Civil War, Congress passed the Homestead Act. Before this act, people couldn’t afford to move out West, much less buy land. Thanks to the Government, though, a new deal was thrown on the table. As long as you were 21 years old, didn’t matter if you were male or female, you could lay claim to 160 acres of public land—FREE. The deal was, though, you had to build a house on it. Had to dig yourself a well. Had to plow some fields and live there for a total of 5 years. if you did, then the Government would just GIVE IT TO YOU. According to this book, more perks came into play. If you planted trees, then by gosh, you could have another 260 acres. And if you were open to living in the desert, you could get 640 acres.

Now mind you, just makin’ the trip out West alive wasn’t guaranteed. The trip was hard and dangerous. If Mother Nature didn’t get you, Indians and whatever else would or could. Then, just living in the middle of nowhere, clearing and shaping a piece of property by hand and out of scratch, well could you imagine? Seriously?

If you needed lumber, you didn’t just make a trip to Lowes, folks. If you needed Food, then you had three options—Hunt it, Raise it, Grow it. If you ran out of food in the dead of Winter, no trip to the local Grocery to grab a few cans and if you got sick or was birthin’ a baby (NO PAIN MEDS!!!) , no Doctor, no Medical Leave… did I say, NO pain medicine! These were the days a woman worked in a field nine months pregnant, dropped the kid right there and then continued to work!

This would be the – Neither Here nor There—bit. I try to get back to a “little” bit of how they did things but I sure appreciate the fact that when I had my three children, because of current –day- pain medicine, I didn’t have to feel it, lol. I like the fact that if I need lumber, I can pop on over to Lowes or Home Depot. If I had to wait on my husband to actually make lumber, Id NEVER get anything done and lets face it, getting’ him to do his “Honey-Do” List NOW, is a chore and challenge all on it’s own.

file5801272130943Honestly, I like mixing two worlds – the then and now. I like making Homemade Laundry Soap but I appreciate the fact I can go “buy” the ingredients at a Store. I like Canning what I grow in the Garden but I like the fact that I can “buy” Mason Jars when I need them. I like the fact that I can throw meat in a Freezer—a Freezer that runs all year long and if the sucker blows up, I can run into town and buy a new one. I like having a Cellphone when I’m driving, in case I break down or the kids need me. I hate having it when I’m tryin’ to sit everyone down for a Family Meal or tryin’ to get someone to pay attention to what I’m sayin’….(Yet, their face is glued to their dang phone.)

I bring this up because again, when someone joins a group or forum hopin’ to find likeminded individuals, all we ever seem to come across is those who are livin’ it to the extreme. It’s like bringin’ an air mattress when you go campin’. Sure enough, someone will always pop up and say, “That’s not campin’.”

Surely, I can’t be the only one who is Neither here nor There. Who enjoys mixing a little of yesterday was some of today. Am I? Or perhaps I’m feelin’ rather nostalgic and am thinkin’ too much out loud. smiles

 

 

Posted in Back in the Day, Country Treasures & Landmarks, Food Facts, Herbicidal Hens, Uncategorized

It’s Almost Time to Hunt Ramps!

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This, is a Ramp and if you live in the South, you already know what these are. If you don’t, they’re a cross between an onion and garlic. You find them in the woods. And believe me, there are lots of folks out there findin’ them!

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So, maybe you’re wonderin’ what to do with them? Anything and everything. People fry taters with em. Grill trout with em. Anything that you would normally put onions or garlic in, well, that’s what folks use a Ramp for.

They are strong, though and not many people can handle them. My father-in-law’s wife, who is from up North, won’t even allow him to cook em in the house, lol. Our Uncle Eddie, though, will cook them from sun-up till sun-down and most folks will dry em or preserve them tryin’ to make em last throughout the season and even into the winter.

Like I said, they are a cross between an onion and garlic and will start to pop up in the Spring. They’re easy to find and easy to dig.

Ramps are high in in Vitamin A, C, Selenium (antioxidant), Chromium (important to metabolize fats and carbs).

For those of you who are ready to go, happy Ramp huntin’! Maybe we’ll see ya out there!