Monday, August 29, 2011

Stocking Up (How to "Hunker Down" for Winter)

How was your weekend? Everyone safe? It was a wild and crazy one here. Lots of strong thunder storms rolled through Saturday night and again on Sunday night wreaking havoc. We were not only without power for quite awhile on Saturday night, I also lost my computer and my recent work that I had not yet backed up. Bummer. On top of that I lost several recipes and other information I had saved for future blog posts so I have my work cut out for me.

It was a rough day on Sunday as my husband worked on Saturday, through the night Saturday night and all day on Sunday as well. I was up until 4 am trying to get my computer up and running but to no avail. So we are sleep deprived and I’m a bit grouchy…mostly at myself for not being more diligent about not saving important info on the desktop without backing it up.

I was happy to have an oil lamp ready to go when the power went out that night. I was home alone and a little spooked but thoroughly enjoyed having an oil lamp to keep me company.

I’ve mentioned before how a power outage gets my mind working about preparedness. In hearing about the power outages in the wake of “Irene” and the damage she left behind, I feel so bad for those who will be without power for possibly several weeks. Yikes! If that doesn’t make you think about preparedness, nothing will.

I am constantly amazed at how quickly we forget about preparedness when things are running smoothly. Every time something goes wrong with the electricity or water, I mentally make a list of the things I need to do to be better prepared and as soon as things are back to normal, I forget all about it.

I was visiting with one of the readers here about food storage and getting it done. We both agree that the hardest part about it is often just the commitment to do it. Sometimes I think we look at the whole big picture and let it overwhelm us instead of breaking it down into manageable segments.

I do have a little ritual that I do every fall though that I’d like to share with you. I always do canning every summer/fall and though I often put it off or think it is going to be worse than it is, by the time I finish I find myself wishing I had done more. I have something inside me that makes me want to “gather the harvest’, “stock up” and “hunker down” for the winter. Here are some things that I do in the area where I live that help me feel more prepared for the long winter ahead. Maybe you can share what things you do in the areas where you live to “gather & prepare”.

1.Stock up on potatoes or other fresh vegetables when possible. I live in an area where potatoes are harvested in the fall and sold in 50 lb. bags. I gather enough bags to get me through the winter…hopefully to last until at least April or May. This year I hope to get extra and dehydrate some again. I loved doing that last year.

2.Onions are sold in many grocery stores in the fall for under $5 for 25 lbs. Two bags are just about right for me. They last me through the winter and are great to have on hand.

3.Squash and carrots are often harvested and stored for several months to be used in the winter months. Carrots can be stored in boxes or buckets of sand to keep them fresh for a long time. Sweet fresh carrots are wonderful to have on hand in the winter.

4.Toilet Paper is a must. I know how much I need to store per month. I make sure that I have at least 6 months worth going into winter. This is on top of additional years supply toilet paper. It’s great to know you won’t run out if you happen to be snow bound and stuck at home.

5.Flour and Sugar are other items I like to buy in the fall because they are usually cheaper. I can grind wheat for wheat flour but I like having 100 pounds of white flour in my basement, as well as 50 pounds of sugar, more if I’m canning.

6.Matches and lamp oil are a must. I also make sure we have fresh flashlight batteries on hand.

7.Plastic or extra blankets make a great room divider if you are without power in the cold and need to close of part of the rooms in your house to keep a smaller area warm. Do you have a way to heat your home and cook your food if you are without power for a week?

8.Soups or non-refrigerated convenience foods are a great way to be prepared if you lose power and need a minimal preparation meal. So much easier to heat up a can of soup than try to make a meal from scratch in a tough situation. I stock up on bouillon for broths and simple soups too.

9.I try to take inventory of any cold or flu remedies that we might need in the months ahead. Vitamin C and essential oils are usually our go-to home remedies.

10.I can’t always do it, but If possible I like to shop the case lot sales and try and stock up on things I might be short on. I always feel better knowing I have a little extra on hand.

11.Water is something we don’t think about as much when it’s cold as we do in the summer, but it is just as important to have a few cases stored for a winter emergency as it is in the summer time.

12.When the weather starts getting cold I like to really concentrate on dehydrating anything that I can find. I don’t have to worry about it heating up the house and I don’t feel the pressure to do it when there is gardening and canning to get done. If I have extra meat in the freezer that I want to can, this is a great time to do it. It is my favorite time to can homemade soups and other non-seasonal foods.

I know everyone probably has their own rituals that they do to get ready for winter. I think as the economy worsens and money gets tighter it is even more important to take inventory and see what essentials we need to have on hand. I read a statement the other day that said, “I don’t look at my short term food storage as an expense, I think of it as my family savings account.” I loved that!

I want to re-post the recipe for the canned cheese sauce that I have canned a few times since I first posted it. I LOVE this cheese sauce. It is so convenient and is absolutely delicious. If you are looking for something fun to can this could be an option for you. I’m doing another batch next week.

Also, each fall I try to find at least 3 or 4 new canning recipes to try to add some variety to what I usually do. Last year I canned a peach marmalade with almonds, coconuts and cherries that I love. I also did a rhubarb jam with cherry pie filling that we have really enjoyed. I believe I posted the recipes last fall. If not I can send them to anyone who is interested.

This year I got a couple of recipes from a friend that I am going to try; blueberry butter made with blueberries and apples, as well as a canned peach salsa. I’m also going to try making homemade taco sauce and canning a praline syrup just for fun. I’ll post these recipes here just for fun. I’ve never made these before. Looking forward to trying them.

What are you canning this year? Anyone care to share?

Homemade Canned “Cheese Whiz”
2 lbs. Velveeta cheese (or any other brand)
10 ounces of evaporated milk
2 T. vinegar
1 t. salt
1 t. dry mustard
Melt milk and cheese in double boiler. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Fill hot jars about 1” from top of jar and add hot lids and rims. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. So good as a dip or on pasta or served over vegetables or baked potatoes.Y: about 5 half pint jars

Blueberry Butter
4 c. Blueberries
4 c. Granny Smith Apples, (6 Large). Peeled And Chopped.
2 c. White Sugar
1 c. Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 t. Ground Cinnamon
¼ t. Ground Allspice
¼ t. Ground Mace
¼ t. Ground Nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves, stirring as needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Pour the butter into sterilized canning jars, filling to within ¼”of the rims. Wipe the rims clean with a clean damp cloth and seal the jars with the lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. cool completely, store in a cool, dark, dry place. Serve on pancakes or waffles too.

Canned Peach Salsa – 8 pints
3 ½ lbs chopped Roma tomatoes
2 ½ lbs. peeled and chopped hard, unripe peaches
4 c. diced yellow onion
2 ½ c. chopped peppers, red, green or yellow
1 ½ T. canning salt
1 ½ T. crushed red pepper flakes or 1-2 chopped jalapeƱos if desired
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 ½ T. cumin
½ T. black pepper
1¼ c. sugar
3 c. cider vinegar (5%)
Place all of the ingredients into one large pot. Bring to boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the peaches have softened. With a slotted spoon, fill salsa solids into hot, sanitized jars, leaving 1¼” headspace. Cover with cooking liquid, which then should leave ½” headspace. Wipe rim and screw threads with a clean damp cloth. Add lid, screw band and tighten firmly and evenly. Process the jars in a boiling water bath, 25 minutes for quart jars and 15 minutes for pint jars. Y: 4 quarts or 8 pints (Can be doubled)

Taco Sauce—Ball Blue Book
3 c. tomato paste
2 T. chili powder
1 T. salt
1 t. cayenne pepper
½ t. hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
5 c. water
1 c. cider vinegar
½ c. corn syrup
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thick. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking and scorching. Ladle hot sauce into jars, leaving ¼ inch head-space. Wipe rims of jars clean. Process 40 minutes in boiling water bath.

Praline Syrup – Ball Blue Book
2 c. dark corn syrup
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
½ c. water
1 c. pecan pieces
½ t. vanilla
Combine syrup, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in pecans and vanilla. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving ½” headspace. Adjust caps. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Y: about 4 half pints.


the Miles Family said...

I just want to tell you that I find your website so inspirational. I love canning and I enjoy all of the different recipes you have.

I am not seeing the recipe for rhubarb jam with cherry pie filling that you mentioned. I would like that recipe. I have a recipe for rhubarb jam that calls for blueberry pie filling and it is my favorite jam recipe.

Also, I had thought that I had seen a recipe on here for Green Chile Verde but I am not able to find it. Do you have a recipe? Would love to have one.

Pam said...

I don't believe I have a recipe for Green Chile Verde. The blueberry rhubarb jam sounds delish and here is the recipe for
Cherry Rhubarb Jam
4 c. diced Rhubarb, Fresh, Frozen or Rehydrated
1 ½ c. sugar
3 oz. package cherry Jell-O
1 can (21 oz.) Cherry pie filling
In a large sauce pan, combine rhubarb and sugar. Le stand for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil, cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in gelatin until dissolved. Stir in pie filling. Seal in hot jars.