Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Whole Wheat Wednesday - Wheat Meat Ground Beef

Last Wednesday we talked about making the basic wheat meat recipe. We have mixed up the dough and washed it and it is now sitting in a bowl of clean water. We have now decided to use this gluten to make Ground beef, one of many different possibilities.

I want to mention here that if you plan on making wheat meat on a regular basis or having the tools and supplies to do it, there are a few things you need to include in your preparedness plan. First of all, you need a good food grinder. A wheat grinder grinds too small, but you can invest in a good non-electric food grinder, such as a hand-crank type. These can be found at places like Lehmans Non-Electric, Smithfield Implement and possibly some hardware stores. These are also useful for grinding pepper and onions and other vegetables in canning. I use mine mostly for grinding raisins to make raisin filled cookies or for grinding vegetables for relishes.

Also because you need a filler or binder to hold the ground meat together in making patties or meat loaf or meat balls, the recipes usually call for eggs. It’s a good idea to have powdered eggs in your storage or unflavored gelatin. This is a good way to use your flax seed if you are storing it.

Spices and flavorings are also important ingredients. If you have followed me for any time at all, you know I am a big supporter of beef bouillon for cooking; to my way of thinking, one of the most important flavorings you can store along with other flavors of bouillon.
Ground Beef is probably the most universally and conveniently used form of beef so it just might be the most popular way to use wheat meat.

There are two main ways to use ground beef; as an addition to casseroles as fillings and anywhere you would normally add fried, crumbled ground beef. Also it can be used in recipes where raw hamburger would be shaped and formed into meatballs, meat loaf or hamburger patties.

To make cooked, crumbled “ground beef”, take the raw, washed gluten and form it into balls the size of an orange. Place them on greased cookie sheets and bake in a 350º oven for 45 minutes until firm and leathery. The tough leathery texture helps to give the meaty texture when it is ground.

Remove from the oven and let it cool. Tear into pieces and put through a food or meat grinder. When ground, it has the appearance of ground beef. A food processor may be used, but the texture will not be quite the same. This is where your food grinder will come in handy.

Ground Beef Wheat Meat
2½ c. moderately packed ground gluten
2 T. beef soup base (depending on brand you use)
2 T. white flour
2 large eggs
2 T. vegetable oil
¼ t. garlic powder
¼ c. finely minced onion OR 2½ T. dehydrated onion flakes
Mix all ingredients together I a large bowl and press onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 300º Oven for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are set. Cool and tear into small bits to resemble cooked hamburger. Add to soups, stews, and casseroles, etc., just before serving. If you allow it to cook in a dish as you would regular beef, too much liquid is absorbed and the texture is lost.

To become proficient at making wheat meat only requires a little practice. The more you practice, the easier it will be to figure out the texture and seasonings you want to use. Pretty soon, you will be able to adapt it to most of your favorite recipes, with good success.

To begin with, choose a recipe where you can disguise the meat such as sloppy Joes, enchiladas or a casserole containing ground beef with noodles, rice or other fillers. This helps to disguise the beef a bit in case your first attempts don’t “look” like meat. The most important thing is to not tell your family or those you are feeding what the meat is. If you do, you can bet they will pick it apart and no one will like it. Here is a recipe for you to try:

Wheat Meat Sloppy Joes
2 c. wheat meat Ground Beef
¾ c. onion, chopped
¼ t. pepper
Salt to taste
1 T. vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
1 ½ c. tomato sauce or homemade ketchup
1 T. mustard
6 Homemade Hamburger buns
In a large skillet, heat together all the ingredients except the wheat meat ground beef. Simmer, uncovered for one minute. Stir in the wheat meat and serve immediately over the hamburger buns which have been split and toasted. Y: 6 servings.

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 jalapeños 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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Food Storage Friendly - Friday Meal Idea and Tip of the Week

I just want to take a minute and thank those of you who have emailed me about the blog. I have received awesome emails from some of you and it really helps give me inspiration for the posts I do here.

Preparedness isn’t an easy thing. It really complicates our lives sometimes. I find myself looking at friends and others who don’t do food storage or preparedness and at how uncomplicated their lives seem. Then I come back to reality and think about how sad they will be someday when the availability of food isn’t there or the price becomes restrictive to them. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have not only of how to do a few things with food storage items but also knowing that someday I am going to be really glad to have it and thankful to use it now and in the future.

My tip this week is to can or preserve everything you are able to. Sometimes cost or availability is restrictive, but if these aren’t a problem, look at the abundance around you and make every effort to preserve it. I even dehydrated a watermelon yesterday just because I didn’t want to waste it and I wanted to see how it works. I’ll keep you posted on that one. Gather what you can and find a way to preserve it, even if it is not something you usually can or dry. You’ll find things that you have never preserved before sometimes turn out to be some of your favorites. I make it a goal to try at least 2 or 3 new things each year. I’ll share some of my new favorites next week.

Every summer I go through a time when I just don’t want to cook. Nothing sounds good, it heats up the house and I just plain have a hard time remembering how to actually make anything nutritious. I might note here that I don’t seem to forget how to make desserts and treats, hmmm. Fresh veggies and fruit are the only things that really sound good; well something wet and cold to drink always sounds good.
Thank goodness some of you are still sending in your food storage friendly recipes. It gives me something new to try and a reason to cook. I’d like to share a recipe for Turkey (or chicken) Cottage pie sent to me by a reader. This is a fun variation on a basic pot pie – very food storage friendly. Thanks, Jeri.

Turkey (or chicken) Cottage Pie

Jeri B. - Arizona
1 C. finely chopped celery
1 C. finely chopped carrot
1 C. finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 T. unsalted butter
3 T. flour
1 C. turkey gravy
1 C. chicken stock or broth
2 1/2 C. bite-sized cooked turkey pieces or chicken
1/2 C. cooked peas
1/2 C. cooked carrots
1/2 C. cooked pearl onions
salt and pepper
2 C. turkey stuffing
Melted unsalted butter, as needed
In a saucepan sweat the celery, carrot, onion and garlic in the butter, covered with a buttered round of waxed paper and the lid, over moderately low heat for 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the gravy, stock or broth and cook over moderate heat, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the turkey, peas, carrots, pearl onions, salt and pepper to taste, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Transfer the mixture to a flameproof 1 1/2-quart baking dish, and with a spatula spread the stuffing over it. Drizzle the stuffing with some melted butter. Bake the pie in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbling, and put it under a preheated boiler until the top is golden brown.

I may or may not have mentioned that for Christmas last year my husband bought me an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. I have loved it. It has been so fun to make genuine Dutch oven potatoes in my house. I have cooked so many different things in it and the results have been wonderful every time – no fault of my own. It’s a lot like cooking in the crock-pot only quicker; the results are much the same.

Just for fun, I want to share a couple of my favorite summertime recipes today. The recipe for Layered Potatoes is originally a crock-pot recipe that I adapted to cook in the Dutch oven. It is wonderful either way. So if you are looking for a great easy no-heat-up-the-house crock-pot recipe or you have a Dutch oven you want to use, this is a great one.

I’m also including a favorite recipe for Green Beans. We love this and have made it many times. You don’t need a crock-pot or a Dutch oven for this one, just your stove top. It’s great for summertime so you don’t heat up your kitchen and especially if you have an excess of fresh Green Beans.

Layered potatoes (Crock-Pot or Dutch Oven)
2-4 T. butter (depending on the amount of potatoes you are using
Thinly sliced (1/8”) red potatoes – peeled or unpeeled (russets work too)
Thin sliced packaged ham (Land-of-frost honey ham is great)
I onion sliced fairly thin
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheese
1 can Sprite OR 1 can cream of chicken soup
Melt butter in bottom of Dutch oven. (If using crock pot spray bottom and sides of pot with cooking spray. Add a little butter to the bottom of your pot (optional).) Spread a layer of sliced potatoes in the bottom of your pot (2 or 3 slices deep). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. *Note: when using ham the potatoes don’t need as much salt. If adding cream of chicken soup, it is quite salty as well; salt the potatoes accordingly. Add a single layer of the sliced ham. Top with a layer of separated onion rings. Sprinkle lightly with grated cheese. Repeat layers, using as many potatoes as you wish. The original recipe called for spreading the cream of chicken soup over the top and spreading it like frosting, then topping with a final layer of cheese. When I made these in the Dutch oven I made as many layers as I wanted and then poured a can of sprite over the whole pot, and topped with a final layer of cheese. They were so good. I have also since used this method in the crock-pot and it worked well. You choose which kind of topping you want. Both are great. For Dutch oven – Bake at 350º for about an hour – they cook quickly. For Crock-Pot – Cook on high about 4 hours and turn to low to keep warm. This is a half-full crock-pot. If you are filling your crock-pot with potatoes, adjust time accordingly. These can also be cooked on low for a longer time. To check for doneness, test potatoes in the center of the pot.

The following recipe for Green Beans originally came from Our Best Bites. I altered it a bit by adding a few sliced almonds and using thick sliced peppered bacon; I also adapted a couple other ingredients and upped the cooking time a bit – we don’t care for our beans to be crunchy. These are now one of our favorite summertime veggies.

Caramelized Green Beans – Original recipe from Our Best Bites

1 1/8 lb. fresh green beans, washed and ends snipped off & snapped in half
½ lb. thick sliced peppered bacon
½ red onion, sliced
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil or bacon grease
2 T. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
½ t. kosher salt
Lots of freshly-ground pepper
Slivered almonds for garnish
Fry the bacon in a large skillet. Start boiling a large pot of water. Prepare the sauce by mixing sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a small bowl. Halve and slice onions, mince garlic. Remove bacon from pan; drain on a paper towel; crumble. Save a couple T. bacon drippings unless you prefer to use olive oil. Place beans in boiling water. Boil 7-8 minutes or until they reach your desired tenderness. If you like them crispy, remove after a couple of minutes and drain in a colander.

Add onions and garlic to heated bacon grease or olive oil. Stir a minute or so. Add drained beans to pan with onions and garlic. Stir fry 2-3 minutes. Stir sauce and pour on top of beans. Keep stir-frying until the beans get kind of glazed. Stir fry for another 2 minutes. –Add crumbled bacon and lots of freshly-ground pepper to the beans. Keep stir frying until the sauce sticks to the beans and the bacon. Transfer to a serving dish and let stand a few minutes so the beans cool down a bit and the glaze thickens up a little. Top with sliced Almonds if desired. *Note: My husband who claims he has never liked green beans can’t get enough of these.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Whole Wheat Wednesday - Wheat Meat

This post is definitely the one that I have put off doing the longest. Not because I don’t think it is important and a wonderful option, but because I have worried about how to present the concept and do it justice. In a class I helped teach on making wheat meat years ago, so many of the people turned up their noses and weren’t even interested in trying it. I was disappointed but not surprised. I firmly believe that even though you may not make wheat meat and eat it as a main staple in your diet, someday, if you learn how to do it, you will be glad you can make it.

I’m a firm believer in storing meat. I have always cooked with meat and nearly all my main dish recipes call for some kind of meat. However, being the realist that I am, I know that no matter how much meat you store, you will someday run out. Then what? I’m not sure I’d go out and shoot something and prepare it and eat it. I’d rather be able to prepare wheat meat and make it taste good; and you can!

I hope that those of you who have not made it or eaten it, will at least copy these instructions or other instructions for making wheat meat and file it away, just in case. I just don’t believe you can be too prepared. I can also tell you that those who do this regularly and have practiced and perfected the methods they use, say it is very good. Many have eaten wheat meat not knowing that is what they were eating.

Wheat meat is also called wheat gluten. It is made through a process using simple flour and water which extracts the gluten from the flour. There are many benefits to having the know-how to make wheat meat. Some of these benefits are as follows:
1) Money – I just paid $2.99 a pound for ground beef this last weekend – on sale. We know it’s only going to get worse. Considering the price of 50 lbs of wheat, it’s pretty obvious how much you can save.
2) Storage life – As mentioned before, meat will only last so long but wheat has a very long shelf life.
3) Nutrition – I know as well as anyone that the meat I buy at the grocery store is probably full of pesticides, fertilizer, antibiotics, steroids, dyes and a certain amount of bacteria. I still buy it and eat it but it is a no-brainer that the wheat is going to be better for me. It contains essential vitamins and minerals is more easily absorbed and digested by the body.
4) Preparation time – In an emergency, time will be of the essence and it is much quicker and easier to prepare wheat meat than real meat.
5) Digestion – The human body has to use 80% of its energy to digest meat. Wheat meat requires much less energy, giving you more energy reserves for use in an actual emergency.
6) Versatility – There are so many ways to use wheat meat that it becomes as versatile as regular meat; the only difference is that from one batch of wheat meat, you can make many different kinds of “meat”.
7) Peace of mind – There is a certain sense of security and peace of mind that comes from knowing that because I can make wheat meat or gluten I have endless possibilities with that wheat on my shelf aside from just baking bread. I don’t need to worry about keeping it refrigerated or having it spoil if it isn’t used up quickly.
8) Bran – An awesome byproduct of making wheat meat is Bran. You should end up with about 1 cup of bran for every pound of wheat meat you make. You can use the bran to make bran muffins or cereal. How cool is that?!
9) Nutritious water – the water left over from the process of making wheat meat is packed with nutrition and can be used in several ways which will be listed later.

There are many resources out there that teach you how to make wheat meat but I’m going to tell you about just a couple and try to simplify it as much as possible. There is a book called “Feed a Family of Four for as Low as $10 Per Week and enjoy a nibble of independence” by Marlynn, Jenny and Venecia Phipps and Jan Woollery.

A whole chapter in this book is dedicated to making wheat meat and they do such a good job. There are different recipes depending on what kind of meat you want to make; ground beef, hamburgers, hot dogs, roast chicken, roast beef, meatballs, chicken nuggets or even shrimp.

Whole wheat flour varies a bit from one type to the next, depending on the quality of your wheat and its protein content. Hard red wheat produces the most gluten but hard white wheat is also great for making chicken and other lighter color meats. The equivalents vary a bit but here are the basics.

Today I’ll post the recipe for basic wheat meat then share some variations in later posts. The basic recipe will yield about 3-4 cups of raw gluten. This can then be baked into about 8-9 cups of ground gluten and will be equal to about 2 ½ to 3 lbs. of ground meat. This can also be used to make about 12 dozen meatballs, “beef” roasts, chicken nuggets, beef steak, roast chicken, shrimp or tuna, hamburger patties, or sausage. The possibilities are endless.

12 c Flour
6 c Cold water (about)
Use wheat flour for beef and other red meats; white flour for chicken, shrimp, or other light meats.

Mixing (Mixer Method)
Combine flour and water in mixer. Using dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. It should be the consistency of bread dough; add more flour or water as needed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a towel to keep the dough from drying out and let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes. If desired it can be covered with cool water and left in the fridge overnight. Proceed with the washing instructions.

Mixing (Hand Mixing Method)
Start with 7 c. flour and 3 ½ c. Cold water
Mix together in a large mixing bowl adding more water, if needed to achieve a bread dough consistency. The consistency you want to end up with is flexible. It should look a lot like your bread dough does before being completely kneaded. You don’t want dry, or watery. You want it to look a bit rubbery. You can adjust the amounts of flour or water after your initial mixing in order to get the consistency you need. It will not require kneading if it is covered with plastic or a cloth and allowed to rest for at least 30 minutes. If desired it can be covered with cool water and left in the fridge overnight. Proceed with the instructions for washing.

After the dough has rested, divide into 1/4ths and work with one portion at a time, keeping the remainder covered as you work. Place a piece of the dough in a strainer which is placed in a large bowl of cold water. While keeping the dough immersed at all times, stretch and compress the dough to wash out the bran and starch. The volume of the dough will diminish considerably during this process but keep your dough in one lump. In a few minutes of working your dough, it will begin to resemble over chewed bubblegum in texture. Kind of like pulling apart a well chewed piece of bubble gum.
Rinse the now rubbery glob of gluten in a fresh bowl of clean water and leave it under water while you repeat the process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.

DO NOT throw out the water you used to wash your dough. Instead, pour it into a gallon jug or pitcher and place in the fridge overnight. If it is allowed to sit it will divide into 3 distinct layers. The top layer of clear water can then be poured off and used to water houseplants, pets, or used to mix your powdered milk, or make bread with it, etc. It has much nutrition in it.

The second layer is starch. It can be used to thicken gravies, stews, sauces, etc. Just use 4-7 T. of raw starch for every 2 c. of liquid in your recipe. Warning: the starch will only stay good for about 2 days in your fridge. To store it longer, place in the freezer.

The final layer is bran. Rinse the bran using a strainer and cheese cloth. It will stay good, when well rinsed, 4-6 days in the fridge. To keep it longer you need to freeze it or powder it. You can use it to make bran muffins, or to make bran flakes for cold cereal.

In your bowl with clean water, you now have your raw wheat meat, or gluten, which can be used to make ground beef, roasts, chicken chunks, shrimp, etc. depending on how you prepare it.

Next time we will talk about making Ground Beef from your gluten or wheat meat.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Canning Taco Meat

One of the fun things about canning is canning convenience foods. I love having meat canned and ready to use. Canning taco meat is a great convenience. When jars are opened all you have to do is heat the meat and assemble tacos or taco salad. It doesn’t get any easier than that. These also make great burritos or any favorite Mexican casserole. Not only that, it just makes for good food storage!

The leaner the ground beef, the better. Plan on one pound of ground beef for each pint of taco meat. (It helps to know how many pints your canner holds and use enough meat to fill your canner if possible. Mine holds 10 pints so I do 10 pounds of hamburger at a time.)

When meat is cooked, drained and spices added, you may be tempted to put less meat in each jar than one pound, but fill it pretty good as the meat will shrink a little when processed. Prepare ground beef, by browning it, draining fat and adding spices. This recipe uses dried spices. Feel free to add fresh onions or garlic if you wish; the dried spices make it super quick and easy to do. Use the following spices, or any spices of your choice. These spice amounts are for each pound of beef. Multiply them by the number of pounds you are canning. This is not a real spicy meat mixture, adjust amounts of any of the spices to your liking. DO NOT add cornstarch or any other thickening agent. Wash and sterilize jars and heat in oven or hot water. Put lids (bands and flats) in a saucepan and bring them to a simmer. Here are the suggested spices and amounts for each pound of beef you are canning:

2 t. dried instant minced onion
1 T. onion powder
½ t. instant minced garlic
1 t. chili powder
½ t. crushed dried red pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ t. dried cumin
1 tsp. salt

Mix well...Now it's time to fill the hot jars with the beef mixture! Fill the jars, leaving an inch of headspace (I usually stop about where the threading on the jar starts). Next wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth to remove any and all residue (Tip: dampening the cloth with a little vinegar helps to remove grease). Next, put the lids on the jars and tighten. When all the jars are filled it's time to process them. Put jars in pressure canner and process according to your pressure canner instructions.

Process the pint jars, (again use the directions in your brand of pressure canner's instruction booklet), at 13 pounds of pressure (for a dial gauge canner – 15 lbs. for a weighted gauge canner) for 75 minutes (this is for 4000-6000 feet above sea level) Quarts would be processed for 90 minutes.

After processing, allow the pressure to drop completely on canner (don't force it down by cooling it, let it cool on its own or you could cause the glass jars inside to break), then removed the canner lid carefully, it was still very hot and steam is released when the lid is removed. Remove the jars with a jar lifter and place them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool. Wait for the beautiful sound of jar lids “pinging” to make sure they are sealed.

I leave the jars sitting undisturbed for about 12-24 hours, and then recheck the seals... if they're still sealed, I label and date the jars, then store them in a cool dark place.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday - Pickling

Are you all canning your fool heads off? I know that sometimes at this time of year, that is what it seems like. It seems to me that the hotter the weather, the more canning going on in my house. Not exactly sure why that it but it sure seems that way.

Speaking of canning, I want to post a couple of links that I’ve been hanging on to for awhile now. One is for the re-useable canning lids – I’ve posted it before but someone asked for a repost so here it is.

The other link is for a home canning system, using actual cans. This is the same principle as the canners that do #10 cans, if you have used those before. This link however, is for the machine to can small cans. If you are so inclined you can actually buy a canner and can your fruits and vegetables in tin cans instead of bottles - at home. I have talked to several people who are putting some of their home canned food storage in cans, so that in the event of an earthquake, not all their preserved foods would be in glass jars. If you are interested in checking this out, here is the link for that.

The way I see it, the problem with canning is that, unfortunately, so many things ripen at the same time of year that it seems impossible to get everything canned and preserved that we’d like to. I know that every year I always look back and wish I’d done more or maybe tried a new variety of this or that but somehow it always seems like a race against time to get everything done. I always promise that I’ll do it next year.

Jams and jellies are easy to can and quick to do. Many vegetables ripen at the same time and need to be taken care of. I love canned beans, fruits and tomatoes and all the rest but occasionally I want to try something different.

Pickling is a big thing. You either love to pickle things and do all kinds of varieties or maybe you stay away from it all together. I especially love sweet pickles and sweet pickle relish and try to keep these on my shelves when I can but I also like pickling other things. Most pickled vegetables are great and if you have extra beans that you don’t want to can, it’s fun to make dilly beans. If you make these, you probably have your own special recipe. These can be made as mild or as spicy as you wish. For spicier beans, just up the amount of garlic and cayenne in each jar or you may wish to throw in some jalapeño to really spice it up. If you really like hot and spice, try the Thunder and Lightening Pickles.

I’m posting some of my favorite pickling and relish recipes. Some are spicy, some sweet. Some you can and preserve for another time of year and some you just refrigerate and eat now. Some use vegetables as well as cucumbers and all are just a little different. These recipes are all fun but different. I love them all and like the fact that they use different vegetables and spices and each has its own unique flavor and texture.

Dilly Beans
2 lbs. trimmed green beans (leave whole) (yellow wax beans are wonderful too)
¼ c. salt (non-iodized)
4 heads dill
4 garlic cloves or less (optional)
1 t. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 ½ c. vinegar
2 ½ c. water
Pack beans lengthwise into hot jars, leaving ¼” headspace. To each pint add ¼ t. cayenne pepper and 1 clove garlic or less and 1 head dill. Combine salt, vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Pour boiling hot over beans, leaving ¼” head space. Remove air bubbles and adjust caps. Process pints and quarts 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

Thunder and Lightning Pickles
In each quart jar put:
1 t. dill seed
1 t. crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (use canned if desired)
1 t. powdered alum
1 t. horseradish
Use large fat cucumbers. Peel and slice lengthwise (about ½” thick slices) and remove seeds. Place standing in bottles and fill with as many as you can get in. Bring to a boil:
1 ½ quart vinegar
2 ½ qt. water
1 c. salt
Pour over cucumbers and seal. Cold pack for 5 minutes. (Boiling water bath)

Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles

2 quarts pickling onions (2-3 lbs.)
2 quarts cauliflower florets (2 heads)
4 quarts medium size cucumbers, unpeeled and cut in pieces (about 7-9 large cucumbers)
Prepare above vegetables. Soak overnight in this mixture:
4 quarts water
1 c. salt (Not iodized)
Boil 15 minutes in:
1 pint of vinegar
2 t. turmeric
2 quarts water
Drain and rinse good in cold water. Pack vegetables into pint jars and make the syrup below and boil for 5 minutes:
10 c. sugar
5 c. vinegar
4 c. water
2 handfuls of pickling spices
After syrup has boiled, pour over pickles in jars. Add a pinch of alum in each bottle and seal.

Chow-chow pickles
4 c. cabbage, chopped (1 small head)
3 c. cauliflower, chopped (1 medium head)
2 c. onions, chopped
2 c. green tomatoes, chopped (about 4)
2 c. sweet green peppers, chopped (2)
3 T. salt
2 ½ c. vinegar
1 ½ c. sugar
2 t. dry mustard
2 t. celery seed
1 t. turmeric
1 t. mustard seed
½ t. ginger
Combine vegetables. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand 4-6 hours. Drain well. Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a 6-8 quart pan. Simmer 10 minutes. Bring to a boil and ladle hot relish into hot jars leaving ½” headspace. Adjust caps and lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Y: 4 pint jars.

Yellow Squash Pickles – (a delicious refrigerated instead of canned pickle)

3 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped or sliced thin
1 large sweet red or green pepper cut into ¼” strips
1 T. salt
1 c. sugar
¾ c. white vinegar
¾ t. mustard seed
¾ t. celery seed
¼ t. ground mustard
In large bowl, combine squash, onion, peppers and salt. Cover and chill 1 hour; drain. In a large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add squash mixture; return to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool. Store in airtight container in fridge for at least 4 days before eating. May be stored in fridge up to 1 month.

Cucumber Relish
12 large cucumbers
4 green peppers
1 red pepper
4 large onions
3 c. vinegar
5 c. sugar
2 T. salt
4 t. celery seed
4 t. mustard seed
3 t. turmeric
¼ t. cloves
Grind cucumbers, peppers and onions; sprinkle 2 T. salt over mixture and let set overnight. Add 1 qt. water. Boil 15 minutes. Drain and wash. Add vinegar, sugar, seeds and turmeric. Cook 20 minutes. Seal in jars. Y: about 8 pints.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whole Wheat Wednesday - Cinnamon Swirl Wheat Bread

One of my most favorite things ever is hot bread or cinnamon rolls. This cinnamon swirl bread is great straight from the oven with butter or cooled slightly and glazed for a more dessert like treat. It is also great toasted and makes wonderful French toast. You can adjust the amount of whole wheat you use, and this recipe doubles easily to make an extra loaf. This is a great way to implement using more whole wheat in your baking!

Cinnamon Swirl Wheat Bread
1 c. whole wheat flour, sifted
2-2 ½ c. bread flour, sifted
1 T. granulated sugar
¾ t. salt
½ T. (rounded) yeast
2 T. honey (can use 2 T. brown sugar)
1 c. + 2 T. water
1/3 cup milk
2 T. butter
In a large mixer bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, salt and yeast (If using brown sugar, add in now). In another bowl, combine honey, milk, water and butter, and heat to 105º in the on stove top or in the microwave. Stir liquids to melt the butter and add, all at once, to the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl. Using the dough hook, mix dough. Add more flour by the Tablespoon, as needed, until the dough comes together and cleans the bowl. Mix for 8-10 minutes with the dough hook until no longer sticky, adding flour as necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Remove from bowl and roll into about a 9x13” rectangle. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the top surface of the dough or you can use your hands just to make sure the dough is wet. You don’t want it wet, just damp. (We don’t use butter because it will keep the loaf from sticking together). Sprinkle the surface of the dough with sugar and cinnamon. You’ll want more cinnamon than sugar so that you have the cinnamon taste. Too much sugar will also keep the roll form sticking together. Beginning at the short end of the dough, roll up dough to form a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan, with seam side down and ends tucked under. Cover loaf with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until dough is at least 1” above the top of the pan. (Don’t be afraid to let it rise longer if it needs to so that your bread is lighter and fluffier. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 25 minutes or till golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when thumped. Remove from pans and cool on rack. For special occasions, you can glaze the cooled bread and sprinkle with sliced almonds if desired.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Whole Wheat Wednesday - Honey Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

If you are new to using whole wheat in your baking or if your family is skeptical, what better way to incorporate whole wheat flour, than making a pizza? This honey whole wheat pizza crust is awesome and I’ve also included the recipe for my new favorite Chicken Barbecue pizza to top it off. This recipe makes 1 crust but can easily be double to make an extra crust, or for bread sticks to accompany your pizza.

For a stuffed crust pizza, roll the crust a little larger than it needs to be. Cut string cheese sticks in half lengthwise. Lay them around the edge of your pizza and fold the dough over the cheese sticks towards the inside of the pizza, sealing the dough as you go. If desired, brush crust with butter during the last few minutes of baking and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning (OUR BEST BITES has an awesome garlic bread sprinkle recipe.) It’s just like having bread sticks and pizza all-in-one!

If you have a favorite way to top your pizza that is a little different please share. We all need a little variety in our lives.

Honey Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
1 c. warm water
1 T. active dry yeast
Pinch sugar
1½ c. white flour
1½ c. wheat flour (plus more if needed)
3 T. Olive Oil
3T. Honey
Put yeast into bowl of a mixer (kitchen aide or you can do it by hand) Sprinkle with sugar and mix together. Add 1 c. warm water and whisk together with yeast. Let yeast proof 10 minutes.

Add ½ of the flour, salt, honey and olive oil. Turn mixer on low, combine well. Add the rest of the flour, once combined, turn mixer up 1 speed and let dough knead for 5 minutes, the dough should be soft. Because of the extra oil and honey, this recipe needs extra flour. Add it slowly, you can always add more, but you can't take it away. Dough should be soft and almost sticky (you should just barely be able to place it in the bowl without it sticking to your hands)

Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until tripled in bulk- at least 1½ - 2 hours. Don’t rush it here. Give yourself plenty of time for the dough to do its thing. Start early and just leave your dough alone! Punch dough down and knead in hands, making sure to get all the air out. Take your time a do a good job. If it's a little sticky, add a tad of flour to your hands or the dough.

Shape pizza into a round ball and begin to flatten out by hand. Form into a disk, place dough on floured board and roll into desired size. Remember to start with a floured board. Dough turns out best when placed on a slightly heated pizza stone (use what you have). Put dough on whatever you are going to bake it on first, then add pizza toppings. Bake at 400º for 12 to 15 minutes.

Looking for a new pizza to top the dough with? Here is my favorite:

Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Sauce 2/3 part your favorite BBQ sauce 1/3 part pizza sauce (This sauce is awesome)
2 c. cooked, shredded chicken, mixed with ½ c. BBQ sauce.
1 c. (heaping) Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. (heaping) Mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ c. - ¾ c. red onion, silvered and caramelized (try adding a dash a balsamic vinegar)
1 c. corn (Fresh or frozen)
1 c. pineapple tidbits, well drained (more if you want)
Cilantro, chopped (optional)
Spoon BBQ sauce mixture onto prepared crust. Sprinkle pizza with most of the cheese (saving a little of each for the end) Evenly cover the pizza with the BBQ chicken. Sprinkle with red onion and corn. Finish with the rest of the cheese and top with cilantro, if using. (I left cilantro off)
Bake at 400º for 12 to 15 minutes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Canning Sloppy Joe Meat Filling

One thing that I had not really considered canning was the meat sauce for sloppy Joes. I love Sloppy Joes (we call them Bar-B-Q’s) and we have them quite often but since our numbers here are so small anymore, I usually just make a batch and freeze the leftovers in small containers to send in my husband’s lunch.

As I was reading about some of the things that people are canning these days, I read the success stories of several who had canned Sloppy Joe meat mix and I knew I had to do it. I like to serve it on buns or on Frito corn chips, topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, grated cheese and Ranch Dressing.

There is really no difference between canning this and canning chili which people have been doing for years. If you have a favorite Sloppy Joe recipe you can successfully can it as long as you don’t add any thickening. If you don’t have a favorite recipe I’ll share mine with you and tell you how I canned it.

My pressure canner holds 10 regular pint jars or 9 wide mouth pint jars. I quadrupled my recipe to make 4 times as much as I usually do and got 12 pints. One that we had for dinner tonight and another that I’ll freeze for later use, and the other 10 to go on my shelves. The only thing I did different was to add the thickening after opening the jar and heating it up instead of adding it when I was making it.

I’m including the regular recipe if you just want to make it and eat it, as well as the quadrupled recipe for canning. When canning, leave out the sugar and flour and add it as thickening when you heat up the canned sauce (just label the jars with the date and the amount of sugar and flour (stirred together) to add when heating up to serve.

Bar-B-Q (Sloppy Joe Filling) – Single Recipe
1 ½ lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 ½ c. tomato juice
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
2 T. flour
Brown meat, onion & celery together. Drain. Add tomato juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Bring to a boil and let simmer a few minutes. Stir together flour and sugar and stir into simmering meat mixture. Cook till thick.

Bar-B-Q (Sloppy Joe Filling) – 4 times the original recipe.
6 lbs. ground beef
4 medium onions, diced
4 sticks celery, chopped
10 c. tomato juice
8 T. soy sauce
8 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/3 c. cider vinegar
(Sugar and flour to be added to individual jars when opened)
Brown meat, onion and celery together. Drain any fat. Add tomato juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes. Ladle into hot pint jars; wipe jars and add new flats and rims. Pressure at 15 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes (altitude 4000 ft and above. *To use: Empty contents of one pint jar into a saucepan; heat until mixture simmers and starts to boil. Combine 5 ½ t. sugar and 2 t. flour; stir into simmering meat mixture and stir until it starts to thicken. Serve hot on buns or over chips with salad toppings

Friday, August 5, 2011

Food Storage Friendly Friday – Meal Idea and Tip of the Week

Yesterday while waiting in line to buy a few things at a small variety store, I was visiting with a woman who noticed I had a few packets of clearance garden seeds in my basket. She commented that she always keeps a garden journal. She keeps track of all the varieties of seeds she plants and how much of each, as well as where she got them and how much she paid. Then as soon as her garden starts to produce each year, she starts keeping track of the yield and then compares it with her previous journals. She said she has found her favorite seeds and most generally can find them on end-of-the-year clearance each year, thus saving lots of money. I asked her if she worries about dates and she told me that she has never had a problem with seeds being too old.

I did the square foot gardening this year, for the first time and loved it. I have grown quite a bit in not much space. I also planted taters in a barrel, actually 2 barrels and they seem to be doing well. I’ve been intrigued by how much you can grow without actually having a garden spot. I started with good soil, lots of water and sunshine and had a lot of fun without too much weeding. I love the not too much weeding part.

I have learned a bit this year that will help me to make some changes next year and so I’m going to write everything down so I won’t forget by the time next year’s planting time comes. I even got my husband excited about building me some more gardening boxes. He builds them and I paint them. Love it. I was glad to visit with the lady who told me about the gardening journal. What a great tip. I’m going to do it too!

This recipe for Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns should have been posted on Whole Wheat Wednesday, but I was too excited to tell you about my canning bacon project so I’m posting it today. This uses vital wheat gluten. If you don’t have any yet, you can buy it in bulk from Winco or canned from any preparedness place. It is a great idea to get some and experiment with it until you get your whole wheat bread recipe perfected. Grab some to have on hand while we are experimenting with whole wheat flour.

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
1 ¼ c. warm milk (try powdered milk)
1 beaten egg (try reconstituted powdered eggs)
2 T. melted butter
¼ c. sugar
¾ t. salt
3 ¾ c. whole wheat flour (Hard red or hard white wheat)
4 t. vital wheat gluten
1 ¼ t. active dry yeast
2 T. more melted butter
Optional: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, finely minced onion –sautéed and drained on paper towels
*Note: This recipe uses a bread machine or mixer but can easily be mixed by hand also.
Put 1st 8 ingredients in order in your bread pan set your machine to the dough setting. When complete, dump the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough in half, and roll each piece out into a 1″ thick circle. Using a large drinking glass, biscuit cutter or wide-mouth canning jar ring, cut each half into 6 rounds, re-kneading and re-rolling the dough as needed to make your pieces. Place on greased baking sheet about 2″ apart; brush tops with melted butter. If you want to sprinkle sesame seeds, poppy seeds or cooked minced onion on top, do it now. Cover and let rise about 1 hour, or until doubled. Bake at 350* for about 12 min, or until tops are browned. Allow to cool completely before slicing buns in half.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Canning Bacon

I’ve had a few things on my list of “things I want to can” for quite some time. Several are different kinds of meats. I’ve canned chicken chunks, beef chunks and ground beef; I’ve done several different soups with meat in them, but I really wanted to do some more meat. I’ve wanted to do ham chunks which I’m getting ready to do and also some ready to use taco meat since my husband loves tacos. One thing I really wanted to try was canning bacon.

I was excited to find out that it is possible to can bacon. You can buy it already canned if you want but if you find a large quantity of bacon at a good price it is a great idea to can it. I guess I put it off thinking it would be hard to do, or that it would be weird when I finished. All I can say is that it was easy, turned out great and I’d like to do more when I can afford it.

The process is pretty simple. There are a couple of options. First, thick sliced bacon is the best. You can do regular bacon but it doesn’t hold up as well, but will work if you don’t mind some pieces instead of bacon strips.

Second, it is recommended that you can bacon in wide mouth quarts – each quart holds about a pound of bacon or a little more. You can however, can bacon in pint jars if you want to have smaller batches when you open the bottles. You’ll have to experiment to see how many slices you can get into your jars depending on whether you use wide mouth or regular.

Third, the processing time differs for each size of jar. Quarts and pints are both canned at 10 lbs. pressure, but Quarts are processed for 90 minutes and pints for 75 minutes.

Fourth, these instructions call for using masking paper –it comes in a roll 12” wide to use for masking when you are painting and can be purchased in a hardware or paint supply store. It is very inexpensive. You can also use parchment paper if you wish – it is more expensive but will work just fine.

Fifth and finally, this is one of those things that you will read on the internet that says you can’t can bacon at home. The reason they say this is because THEY don’t do it and therefore don’t recommend you doing it at home. It has been done for years and people who do it regularly, love it and have never had problems. One woman said she has kept the bacon on her shelves for more than 3 years but has also store in a darker cooler place for longer and would consider almost indefinite storage time if canned and stored properly. Just for the record I will say, I am doing this but if you decide to do it, it is your choice and you do it at your own risk. (THEY told me to say that!)

But what is the bacon like when it's opened? Doesn't the brown paper turn into paper mush? Is the bacon cooked or raw, crumbly or greasy? Once the jar cools, of course the bacon fat will turn white and solid instead of clear and liquid. Slide the bacon out of the jar and spread open. The paper will be creased and greasy, but not disintegrated or crumbly. It's kind of messy to peel the paper off the bacon, but it will peel. Once the bacon is free of the paper, simply fry it like ordinary bacon. It cooks up great! *Note: this bacon grease can also be part of your oil or fat storage.

Canning Bacon
-Thick sliced bacon (You can use regular bacon instead but it has a tendency to fall apart when cooking)
-Masking Paper 2 pieces - 12”x18” (can use parchment paper but masking paper is cheaper)
*When you are first starting out, do enough for one jar so you can see how many slices you can fit in your jars. If you are using wide mouth pint jars you will be able to fit more bacon in than if you are using regular pints. Using quarts makes a difference also. Also, if you are using thick sliced bacon, that will make a difference. If you can’t get it into your jars, just remove a slice or two of bacon and re-roll.

Cut an 18” piece of masking paper. Lay raw bacon slices on the paper, side by side, leaving about a 1½” overhang of paper on the starting side. Put between 12 and 14 pieces of bacon on the paper (1.2-1.4 lbs. bacon) side by side on the paper. Cut another piece of masking paper 18” long and lay on top of the bacon. When you have all your slices on the paper, fold the bacon in half (so that each piece is folded in half), bringing the top side of the 2 paper layers with the bacon in-between, (the side that is away from you) down to meet the side closest to you. Roll it tightly into a large roll, starting at the right side and tucking as you go. Using hot sterilized jars, lids and rims, slide the bacon into a canning jar, tucking in any extra paper. DO NOT ADD WATER! Wipe off the rim of the jar and top with new lid and ring. Using a pressure canner, process for 90 minutes (quarts) 75 minutes (pints) at 10 lbs. pressure in your pressure canner. Remove, cool, label and store on shelves.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I am amazed at the number of people who tell me they don’t like rhubarb. Usually upon further questioning, many have only ever tried it raw. I was further surprised to find out several people I talked to grow rhubarb in their yard, but only as a background for other flowers and shrubbery, but don’t use it to make yummy foods. Really? How could you? Well I don’t like it raw either, but I love Rhubarb pie, Rhubarb Muffins, Rhubarb cobbler, Rhubarb jelly, Rhubarb syrup, Rhubarb jam, Rhubarb Crisp, and Rhubarb fruit leather.

One thing that I really like about Rhubarb is how easy it is to use. Just pull the stalks, wash and cut into pieces and freeze for later use. If you have never tried Rhubarb, I want you to do something with it. I bet you’ll love it too.

I can't believe how easy it is to dry Rhubarb, thus freeing up more space in your freezer – can you tell that is an issue with me? Last year I made rhubarb fruit leather for the first time and I loved it. A lot. It is so easy and so good. I hesitated at first because there are so many other things I’d rather use it for and if you don’t have access to a lot of rhubarb, you become choosy about how you use it. I’m going to share the instructions on how to dry rhubarb as well as some of my favorite Rhubarb recipes. Here goes:

How to Dehydrate Rhubarb Using a Dehydrator
Remove (cut off), and safely discard the rhubarb leaves, (rhubarb leaves are poisonous).
Cut off the "pulp" end of the rhubarb stalks.
Rinse the rhubarb stalks with water.
Chop the rhubarb stalks into 1/2" - 1" pieces. Remove blemished areas of the stalks. (I like ½” for drying and all the pieces should be uniform in size)
Steam the rhubarb until it is slightly tender.
Transfer the rhubarb pieces to the dehydrator trays, and set the temperature to 130°, or as per the dehydrator manufacturer's instructions.
Rotate the dehydrator trays for "even" drying.
Drying time will vary with Dehydrator Model. Approximate drying time is between 6 - 14 hours, or as per the dehydrator manufacturer's instructions. Rhubarb pieces will feel leathery/crispy when dried.
I like to measure out the amount of rhubarb that my recipes call for before drying, (usually 4 c.) then I don’t have to worry about measuring when rehydrating.
Store the dried rhubarb pieces in airtight containers or bags.
Remember to label the containers or bags with the date, and use the "oldest" dehydrated rhubarb first. The rhubarb may appear brittle when dried, but it will reconstitute well when you include it in your rhubarb recipe.

Rhubarb Fruit Leather
4 c. chopped (1” pieces) fresh rhubarb
4 c. boiling water
½ c. brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
In heatproof bowl combine rhubarb and the 4 c. boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes. This softens the rhubarb and removes some of the acidity. In blender puree the softened rhubarb in batches. Add sugar and cinnamon. Taste and adjust flavorings as needed. Puree until smooth. Pour on trays and dry until sheet can be turned over. Dry to desired consistency – chewy to slightly crispy. Optional: add a can of cherry pie filling to blender and puree with rhubarb for a sweet and wonderful flavor.

My favorite Rhubarb Recipes:
Rhubarb Jelly
Cook rhubarb until it is mushy. Cover with just enough water to cover, the less water the stronger the flavor will be. Strain rhubarb extracting as much juice as possible.
3 c. rhubarb juice
1/3 c. liquid pectin (1 pouch or ½ bottle)
4 ½ c. sugar
Bring juice and pectin to a boil. Add sugar and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Pour into sterilized jars and put lids on. Water bath 15 minutes. This is a delicate, tangy jelly, especially good on thumbprint cookies or waffle or pancakes.

Rhubarb Pie
4 c. sliced rhubarb (1” slices)
1 2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
Dash salt
Combine flour, sugar and salt. Stir in rhubarb and let stand 15 minutes. Prepare pastry for 2 crust 9” pie and line pie plate with pastry. Fill with rhubarb mixture. Dot with 2 T. butter. Adjust top crust and seal edges and flute. Cut slits in top crust to vent steam Brush crust with milk or egg white and sprinkle with sugar on top. Cover edges of crust for the first while of baking to prevent over-browning. Bake on a baking sheet lined with foil at 400º for 50 minutes.

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.

Rhubarb Crisp
5 c. chopped rhubarb
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. quick-cooking oats
½ t. cinnamon
3 T. butter or margarine
Place the chopped rhubarb in an 8" x 8" greased baking dish. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resemble coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the above mixture over the rhubarb, and pat down lightly. Bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned. Serve hot or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Rhubarb Cobbler
4 c. Chopped Rhubarb, fresh, frozen or rehydrated
1½ c. Sugar
¼ t. Salt
2 T. Lemon Juice
1/2 t. Almond Extract (optional) may substitute vanilla
2 c. Flour
2 T. Sugar
1/4 t. Salt
1 T. Baking Powder
¼ c. Shortening
¼ c. Butter
½ c. Whole Milk
1 whole Egg
Preheat oven to 400º. Combine rhubarb, sugar, ¼ t. salt, lemon juice, and almond extract. Stir and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, 2 T. sugar, ¼ t. salt, and baking powder. Stir together. Add shortening and butter; then cut together with a pastry cutter. Beat egg and milk together. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined. Pour rhubarb into a buttered 9x9” baking dish. Tear off pinches of dough and drop it onto the surface of the fruit. If you wish for a thinner crust, don’t use all of the batter. Sprinkle additional sugar over the top. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
3 T. butter, melted
2 ¼ c. diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
4 ½ t. sugar
6 T butter, softened
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 t. vanilla
1 c. plus 2 T. flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
¼ c. milk
¼ t. cream of tartar
Whipped cream or ice cream
Combine brown sugar and 3 T. butter. Spread into greased 9” round baking pan. Layer with rhubarb; sprinkle with sugar and set aside. Cream butter and ¾ c. sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder & salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. In small bowl, beat eggs whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into creamed mixture, about ½ c. at a time. Gently spoon over rhubarb (pan will be full, about ¼” from top of pan.)Bake 325º 50-60 minutes or till cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto serving platter. Serve warm with whipped cream of ice cream. Note: if using frozen rhubarb measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in colander, but do not press liquid out.

Rhubarb Muffins
1 ½ c. brown sugar
1 c. buttermilk, or sour milk
¼ c. vegetable oil
2 ½ c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3 c. rhubarb, chopped
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ c. chopped nuts, optional
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 ½ t. cinnamon
1 T. melted butter
Preheat oven to 400º. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl combine 1½ c. brown sugar, oil, milk, egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Spoon evenly into 12 muffin cups. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of this mixture on top of each muffin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.