Weekly Acomplishments

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The summer solstice arrived yesterday in blues, with sunny skies and hydrangea  blooming. It’s been a long winter and in looking back at my earlier post, I haven’t updated since the first of the year. We had an intense winter with not only a few weeks of bitter cold weather and burst pipes, but my mother getting more frail and needing more involved care. She passed in the late spring and while the loss is deep and painful, we have the comfort in the life we shared and that she is joined by friends and family in a better place.

I thought for this new summer season (and a new season in my life without the role of caregiver) I would start a new Sunday series where we share our weekly preparedness accomplishments. Sometimes, just having a community to share what you did and to see what someone else is doing, is so motivating! I belong to a preparedness Facebook group, and I’ve noticed from that a need for sharing and marking what you have done, be it large or small. So stop back next Sunday and share what you’ve accomplished, and I will tell you what we did!

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Our big accomplishment this week was getting the water barrels filled! I purchased the blue water system barrel from Thrive after the crisis in the Philippines made me so aware of how important water storage is. What I like about it is that it has a pump that comes with the system and instructions on how to store the water. I was so excited to see how we simply put the pump in, squeeze it, and out  flows clean, pure, water! We put the barrels on a wood base as you don’t want to store water directly on the ground. (There is a reason for that, I just can’t remember it now!) The white one we bought through a regional preparedness group, it had  7-Up stored in it so we washed it good with a vinegar water solution. Yesterday we stored over 150 gallons of water. It feels good to be a little more prepared!

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The raspberries are ripe now and grown locally at a farm near our house. I purchased a flat of them and made raspberry jam. Have you ever read the labels on jam? It is hard to find jams and jellies that don’t have high fructose corn syrup used for sweeter!  The jam has a beautiful color, and a fresh sweet taste. This jam makes a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich a treat.  I also found enchilada sauce on sale and bought 10 cans. A small thing, but it is the little things we do that add up.

Please join the discussion and tell me,  what have you accomplished this week, even the small things, to be better prepared?

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The Apple Harvest

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I have been missing from posting for a long time! We had a small leak under the kitchen sink that didn’t seem like that big of a deal. I called the insurance company out to give us an estimate and before I knew it, the kitchen cabinets were sitting outside and I could actually look through the boards of the sub-floor to the dirt under the house. AH!! It seems like most of the summer was spent in the kitchen remodel, but now I have a beautiful wood kitchen floor and new fresh counter-tops. I am amazed at how beautiful my kitchen is now, and it is a reminder of how sometimes good can come from something bad.

IMG_8577It is apple season here in Washington State.  We have apples on the trees, over the arbors, and in large boxes at the farmers markets,  A few weeks ago, I bought a mixed box of apples and brought them home to make applesauce. I am new to canning, and this is the first time I ever made it. I was surprised how simple it was!

apple collage   I looked on-line at all kinds of recipes, in the end I just peeled and cored the apples and put them in my crock-pot. I put some brown sugar and cinnamon in the apples with a little bit of lemon juice. I cooked them until they were soft, and adjusted the sugar and cinnamon to taste. The house was filled with the fragrant aroma of apples and cinnamon!  I then filled my hot jars with the sauce and processed them in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

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On cold winter mornings, we now have home-made applesauce to top our toast and pancakes. Each jar is a tasteful reminder of the fruitful blessings.

Have you ever made applesauce, how do you make it?

Summer Canning

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Making goals for the season is something I have tried to do lately.  Especially summer, as the weather is beautiful here and it is a time to get things done and enjoy the season. If I don’t, summertime laziness creeps in and I wonder what we did that was fun, or what we accomplished. This year, my goal was to expand the gardens, both the flowers and the vegetable, and learn to pressure can. I have water-bathed canned for years, but I have never canned the vegetables and soups. I had never even thought of canning meat until I saw a video where she told how easy it is to put a meal together with canned chicken.  Really? Canned chicken?  I researched canners for months, and finally selected the All American Canner based on reviews and recommendations from several people who can often.

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I jumped right in canning Tangerine Chili.  My thought was that having a meal I could simply open would be wonderful, and since tomatoes were ripe and the recipe called for fresh tomatoes that would be a great place to start.  I watched all kinds of videos first, even a video where they canned the recipe I was working on. I had to smile to myself, here I was in my 50’s, and calling my son and asking him what to do next. (He pressure cans food for living off-grid on his boat.) Most of the people I watched and learned from, were younger than I am.  I think many of these old skills skipped a generation or two and now we are seeing a resurgence. My own mother often declared she would never can like her mother did. I often heard her declare: “Why can when I can buy it cheaper in the store?!”  We have returned to the old ways as we realize he taste is superior and healthier, and there really is a nothing more convenient than opening a jar of home canned chili on a winter evening when you come in late. I  was able to put up several jars of chili and we ate a bowl that night despite the warm weather. I was on a roll and ready to can some vegetable soup next! I could see my pantry… filled with all sorts of wonderful vegetables and meals, just ready for us to use for a meal!

canningLife has a way of surprising you. We had a leak under the sink that we didn’t notice for a few days.  It leaked under the wood floor, under the cabinets, and when the floor started to buckle, I called our insurance agent. For the last two weeks, we’ve had contractors in, blowers going, and now our kitchen cabinets and sink have been removed to allow everything under them to dry. Canning or doing anything in the kitchen has come to a complete stop!  I can totally see the beauty of ready meals in a jar. We’ve gone out to eat most evenings as it is just too hard to try fix something. Did you learn to can as a child or is this a skill you are hoping to acquire? What summer bounty are you “putting up” this year?

It’s Berry Season!

PicMonkey Collage“The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.”

  It’s berry season here in the Pacific Northwest, with the harvest a little earlier this year with the warmer temperatures we have been having. I decided this year to try to make some blueberry freezer jam.  Freezer jam seems to keep that fresh berry taste better than canned, so it is favorite at our house. We use it for topping biscuits, ice-cream, pancakes and crepes. Or for just eating straight out of the jar-not that I would ever do that!

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I wanted the jam to be a little less set, which freezer jam does tend to do. When I look for blueberry syrup, I can’t find any without high fructose corn syrup, and even then it is over $8 for a small bottle. I tried this recipe  from the ball website, although I didn’t use their pectin, I just used sure-jell.

The jam turned out perfect to use as a syrup, topping, or even as jelly for biscuits. This winter when the cold wind blows, fresh blueberry topping will be wonderful with pancakes.  Pancake mix is one of those items I have in my long term food storage pantry.  Different types of toppings would be nice in an emergency. If you top it with peanut butter instead of butter, not only be delicious, but it will get you through the morning.

Join in on the discussion, do you prefer freezer jam or canned?  What summer produce are you putting up for your pantry?

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From The Farm Blog Hop