Sunday, October 23, 2011

Oh goodness, it's gonna blow!

Well, at least that is what it sounds like right now! I bought me an All American pressure canner. Yep, I sure did. Today is the first time I have EVER used a pressure canner. I have only done hot water baths. Oh goodness...this thing sounds like it is gonna blow!

It is making me nervous!

REALLY NERVOUS!

I think I am gonna stay out of the kitchen for the next 50 minutes. Oh goodness...why do I do this to myself? Kroger has perfectly good sweet potatoes that I could buy....without stress. Heck, I bet I can even get some at Aldi for a better price...

Please pray for me that my nerves can stand the rest of this first time canning experience!

UPDATE: I was going to type an update, but instead I am just gonna copy and paste what I sent to a friend about this experience.

"Girl, what an experience this has become! So, I decided to break open the box and can my sweet potatoes using the All American canner I bought. Ok, so mine does NOT have an arrow on the base. I looked EVERYWHERE. There is a little notch-like line that is about an inch long, but no arrow. I also should have watched the video again. I get them all in the jars and after spending 5 minutes trying to get the lid adjusted and calling hubby out for help, I get started. Now mind you, I have NO CLUE what I am doing. It is about 25 minutes into it and hubby mentions that when his mom canned, the weight sputtered and mine wasnt. I had no clue why. Then he asks, "what is the temp on?" DUH! I had it on high and it was now 45 min into it. I run in there scared to death the darn thing is going to explode on me and turn the heat down. Now I am afraid it is going to run out of water. Needless to say, I am about 65 min into it and the sputtering is slowing down ALOT! I am nervous I am going to run out of water so after him hawing about 5 minutes, I turn the darn thing off and let the pressure go to zero. I open it up...PLENTY OF WATER. Stupid! I turned the heat down too much! Now I am mad. So here it is over 2 hours later and now I am processing them again. New lids, new water in the canner, and now it is heating up again. Oh and did I mention that I put the weight on as soon as I put the lid on? I didn't let it vent for 10 minutes like the directions said so when I thought I had 25 minutes left, I guess I really had 35 minutes left. ARGH!!!! Bright side is...learning experience!"

Update on that: Out of 7 jars....six made it. Overall, I am happy. The one that didn't seal is in the fridge to be eaten soon. This morning I am canning some more...hope all 7 of these seal!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm a-hurting today

This is just a post to whine a little. Since I know of no one that reads this besides myself, I am going to whine away! I hurt today. And I have to work tonight. NOT looking forward to it, but it will all work out.

Don't ya hate when you are reading the updates on facebook and there are certain people who have to post every single time they don't feel well? That drives me crazy! Honestly, I just want to say something, but that would be rude so I politely complain to myself and move on.

Ok, enough about complaining about those people, since I am now one. Just an FYI. I am NOT one of those people. I never post how sick I am. I just do not feel well today and I just need to whine some. The man is not home from work for me to complain to him so the blog gets my complaints.

My wrists hurt. Mainly my right one. All swollen the range of motion is about nil. My back aches too. I HATE rain. Well, I like the rain, but hate how it makes me feel. If I could type out a scream, I would. But, alas, I cannot.

Ok, off to ingest some pain medication...which I hate to do. It is just Aleve, but I hate taking any medicine. It does help though. Oh and to complain even more, I got put back on Enbrel. I really HATE that. At least I can decrease the Methotrexate. Yay. That made me sick as a dog the day after. Who would have thought that switching to the injection would make me sicker. I went from heartburn with the pills to nausea and dry heaves with the shots. NOT COOL! Especially when I am getting my sleep on and I wake up gagging and retching. Yuck! Luckily I had some Zofran. Zofran is my friend at 3am the night after taking the shot. Hopefully I can leave that friend behind with the decrease in dosage.

Ok, ranting done. I still hurt, but I mentally feel better. Thanks blog for being there when I need it ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

taking 'homemade' too far?

My son, "the boy", makes me giggle. The other day as I was rambling on and on about how "I can make that!" when he would ask for something, he again made me laugh. I have no clue what all I said I was going to make...probably nutritious substitutes for whatever they show on tv. (Not that I ever make them...I just dont buy the store bought ones) So one day I say I am going to make something and asked for a piece of paper. He looked at me and said, "Why dont you just make THAT too!"

LOL!!!!

I guess I say I am going to make a lot of things.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sweet potato madness!

I do love me some sweet potatoes! I am really the only one in the family though...wait, my oldest girl in college now likes them...yay!

I got the invite about a week ago to go glean some sweet taters from a farmer's field. Hello? That invite was quickly accepted!

After about 30 minutes, I gathered five 5 gallon buckets plumb full of sweet potatoes! Small fingerlings to large "feed your family on one tater" tater. Whoa mama! I was in tater heaven! I actually wanted to go back for more the next day, but then I was brought back to my senses when I looked into the kitchen and saw the abundance of what I gleaned.

This particular farmer believes in sharing. He told my friend's grandmother that he believes in gleaning (although she told me he says "gleaming"). He believes it in a Biblical way...that by sharing the wealth, he is doing good. I cannot remember how my friend phrased it. He had told friends that the commercial people who buy his produce had collected what they wanted and he did not want the rest to go to waste so by word of mouth people were to head to his field and pick as many taters as they wanted. I was so glad to be in the know! We did not even make a dent in the amount of potatos in the acres of land. I now wish I knew more people to glean from!

So what am I going to do with all these sweet potatoes? Not completely sure. So far I have given some away...maybe almost 2 buckets full. Why not? Honestly, what am I going to do with all these potatoes when me and one other child like them? I am going to try to make some sweet potato fries to freeze. I am also going to can a bunch of them for meals and casseroles. (in my new canner...booyah!) I will also make some sweet potato pie filling and freeze. A friend gave me a sweet potato biscuit recipe so I may make some and freeze or just can more for it.

Any recipes to share???

garlic honey pizza crust

My kids love pizza. One could eat it every day! Take out pizza gets expensive so my husband (who IS a good cook) trialed several pizza crust recipes and this one won the taste test in our family! Give it a try, it may be a winner in your family too!

You may think...Garlic? Honey? in the same recipe? trust me...it is super yummy!

garlic honey pizza crust

Ingredients
2.5 cups of flour (although I usually need to add more)
1 cup warm water
1 tbl yeast
2 tbl honey
1 tbl garlic powder
1 tbl onion powder
1 tbl garlic oil (or any oil really...canola, olive, vegetable)

Directions
- Put the yeast into the warm water for about 5 min.
- While the yeast/water is working its magic, in a mixer put the rest of the ingredients and go ahead a mix a little.
- Add the yeast and mix.
- Add more flour as needed to be able to roll out to form a crust.
- Roll out onto floured surface to make the crust. The man (aka my husband) also informed me that he lightly sprays the cookie sheet with oil to be able to roll the dough out. (I'd trust him on this...he actually makes the pizza in the family, not me!)
- Add toppings for a pizza! We also use this recipe to make pepperoni or hot pepper rolls.
- Enjoy!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Yummy, Homemade Applesauce

Have you ever had homemade applesauce?? Ever?? I never had it before I got married. EVER! Ya see, I was raised on "fish sticks and tater tots".

Why did she put that in quotes? --you may be thinking.

Well here is why. When I was growing up if it came from the frozen food section and basically could be heated up in the oven, it was called a meal. There was no real cooking in our house. My mom could cook, she just rarely did. I think she made a pot roast a few times...oh and she would cook Thanksgiving dinner, but for the rest of the year..."fish sticks and tater tots"...or take out.

Sorry, I tend to ramble!

So, I got married. My mother in law was a canning fiend...a FIEND, I tell you! Now she is more of a "fish stick and tater tot" kind of gal, but oh did she can when I first met her. And her applesauce...SO GOOD! chunky applesauce...smooth applesauce....any homemade applesauce. YUM YUM YUM!

I now can our own applesauce...not every year...I am lazy...but I am trying to get better! So here is the recipe...easy peasy man!

Yummy Homemade Applesauce!
There is no real recipe or measurements (which I LOVE!!)

Ingredients
Apples. I bought a a bushel of apples to use
Water. (ummm...just enough to cover the bottom of the pan...a cup maybe?)
(NO SUGAR NEEDED!!!)

Directions:
-Peel and core apples (I have a cool little gadget that does it for me!)
-Cut out any bruised areas
-Throw in a big pot that has the water in it (or add the water after..don't matter!)
-Cook on whatever heat you want...and keep smooshing down.
-When all the pieces are soft, put in a blender and blend to the consistency you want
-Pour into canning jars (my blender has a spout so I put the canning jar under and pour it right into the jar!)
------Remember to have the jars sitting in simmering water (along with the lids) to get them sterilized.
-Process in a hotwater bath for 10 minutes.
-Remove and wait for the "POP!" and store! (one bushel made about 11 quarts!)

In the past for fun, I have taken dehydrated strawberries and blended into strawberry powder and added to the applesauce before canning. This is soooo good and much healthier than the strawberry applesauce they sell in the store! This year I dehydrated blueberries to try to make blueberry applesauce. Hope it tastes just as good!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Basil Pesto Baby!

I was at a friend's house one day and she asked, "Basil is not a perennial is it? Nope, I don't think it is." Before I could answer, she had pulled out half of her plant and handed it to me....dirt pile and all.

So after I got over my excitement of scoring some free basil, I put it in the plastic bag she gave me and off I went.

On the way home I was able to smell its lovely smell (which I totally did not know it had) and contemplate, "what in the world do I do with this basil?" You see, I am not a good cook...emphasis on NOT A GOOD COOK!

Well, the internet is a good thing. I learned about pesto. Before the internet, I knew nothing about pesto.

Nope, nothing. Well, I heard of the word, pesto, but had NO CLUE what it was!

So, here, my new friends, is the recipe for basil pesto. (I still have more basil and plan on making some more and freezing it! I have learned that a little goes a long way with this stuff!!)

Basil Pesto Baby!

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves (pack those suckers into the measuring cup!)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
-Throw the basil and the garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times.
-Slowly...slowly...add the olive oil..while the food processor is on.
-Scrape down the sides with a spatula if needed. (turn the processor off while doing this!)
-Add the cheese and turn the processor back on
-Add salt and pepper to taste. (I have always wondered what "to taste" means, so I usually just add a pinch and think, "BAM!" its done!
-ENJOY! I used about a tablespoon for each bowl of pasta. I forgot how much the recipe "officially" makes, but I was able to get about 8-9 tablespoons.
(Oh and my food processor broke so I used a blender. It worked, but I had to keep unclogging it.)

This basil pesto is now officially my favorite green glop!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

So why the blog?

Why am I blogging?

Well, mainly it is going to be a diary of sorts. I have lots I think about and want to do and this will maybe help me keep track of my goals and plans. I have started and stopped a couple of blogs so maybe this one I will keep up with. My latest focus is getting myself and my family healthy.

This is going to be a rough journey.

First off, my family loves their unhealthy foods and all things unhealthy. Fast food, cleaning products, air fresheners, etc. Anything processed seems to make its way into our house. I have to take babysteps with this project or else I will be fighting a losing battle. (Can I tell ya, I do occasionally LOVE me a whopper jr!)

Second, I am also cheap. I want to be healthy in the cheapest way possible. I may, at times, go the cheaper route instead of the healthy route. Don't judge me! It will all work out!

Third, I NEED to get healthy! Seriously. I have rheumatoid arthritis and have had it since I was five years old. Over 30 years of this craziness! I have spent the majority of my adulthood in remission, Thank the Great Lord above! Over the past year, I have noticed some changes that I have ignored and now, although not in a full blown flare, I am out of remission. I am only 36 people! This is totally unacceptable! I REFUSE to let it get me disabled! I am an overweight, unhealthy nurse who knows better than to let herself get to this point!

So, my goals are (not in any particular order):
1) Lose weight and hence become healthier
2) Get the arthritis in remission with the least amount of medications
3) Replace most cleaning products with cheap natural ones
4) Replace processed foods with more homecooked, natural ones
5) Get the family healthier (without them fighting the process)
6) Get our finances in order and get us a house
7) Graduate from grad school and become a psychiatric nurse practitioner (yeah, yeah, I am a psych nurse...so what of it?)

I think this is a possible list of goals, don't you think?

I think I am normal...

I really do!

My family (and sometimes my friends) do NOT think I am normal. This, they say, is why they love me.

In all seriousness, although many things about me "seem" abnormal, I really believe I share traits with many other moms out there. They just keep their weirdness underwraps, where as I like to sometimes "fly my freak flag", so to speak.

Below are some (not all) things that "might" make me not normal:

For instance, my son says that I do not embarrass him (he says that is not normal....really?)

*Maybe* it is not normal that I got married when I was 17 yrs old and am still madly in love with my man almost 20 yrs later. I think I read somewhere that only like 1% of teen marriages "make it". Ok, so it is not normal that our marriage has lasted.

I let my girls color their hair every color under the rainbow and let them have piercings. I DON'T encourage it, but if that is how they want to express themselves, then have at it. How could I argue when my oldest says, "mom, I don't smoke, don't drink, don't do drugs, and I am not a whore, why can't I color my hair?" Makes sense to me! I do limit the piercings though. My middle one only has her nose pierced and REALLY wants another facial one, but I have told her she needs to wait. Wait for what, I am not sure, but she is okay with it...for now. (To be honest, I actually LOVE the fact they are comfortable expressing themselves that way.)

Despite the above, I do not color my hair and only have one piercing currently (in the cartilege of my ear). Although, I do LOVE piercings and tattoos...

I love rocks. Seriously love them. I have gone after work with a fellow nurse (while in our scrubs) down a back road and dug up rocks for our yards. I also have a rock collection and ask for others to bring me back small rocks from their travels. ROCKS ROCK!

I LOVE my kids being home from school. I get excited for summer breaks, snow days, and teacher workdays almost as much as they do!

I randomly laugh (sometimes for no reason)

I have two dream cars...one is Bumblebee (ya know, the yellow camero from Transformers) and a car that runs off of used fast food oil. Yep, I would love to own either OR BOTH!!

I REALLY want to hunt my own food. When I see a deer in a field, I don't think "Bambi", I think (and often say outloud to my kids' dismay) "DINNER!"

So, come on, seriously, do these above things make me not normal? I do not think so. I bet there are plenty of other moms out there who share in many, if not all, of the same interests that I have. But, nonetheless, my blog needed a name and I thought this one fitting (although I still think I am more normal than not!)