Thursday, September 3, 2015

Canning Catastrophe... Blessing in Disguise?



Today... you get a two-fer!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Amish series... to tell you a story about a canning catastrophe... to let you know that things happen no matter how seasoned a canner you are... or how sure you are of your skills.

A couple weeks ago, I went to my canning closet to get something... and the above picture is what I found!

Mr. G and I live in a pretty small house, we have no basement, no root cellar, no garage, and only one small outdoor storage shed that is not climate controlled nor cool in the least... we live in the Midlands of South Carolina and have fairly mild winters, but brutally hot, humid summers so storing food items in the shed is not an option... just so ya know! We do have three bedrooms... one we sleep in... one we have set up for crafts and hobbies... and one set up with a guest bed and storage combined... we stripped the closet in that bedroom and installed "supposedly" heavy duty plastic shelving units and we use that closet as canning storage/pantry/other food storage.

Well... the "heavy duty plastic" shelving had collapsed on one end causing an avalanche of canned goods! (those shelving units had CLAIMED to hold up to 750 pounds!)

We're not sure when the accident occurred... we don't go to the pantry every day... and we didn't hear the crash, so it could have been a few days and most likely while we weren't home.

Anyway...

We set about cleaning up the mess... there were, surprisingly, few broken jars (maybe a dozen or two)... but there was a lovely, smelly, sticky combination of Brunswick stew, praline syrup, and assorted relishes running down the wall and puddled up in the floor (which, of course is carpeted!!!!)

We had to use extreme care (and thick gloves) while removing the jars from the "pile" so as not to create yet another avalanche and additional breakage... so it took some time!!!

Once we got the jars picked up and set out on every available flat topped space in our house... we threw out the broken jars, removed the offending shelves, and began scrubbing the walls and carpet.

Mr. G had bought a used shop vac (for a GREAT price) when we first moved into the house so we pulled that out to clean up the worst of the liquid/stickiness/grossness... and wouldn't you know it??? The vac stopped working about 2 minutes into cleanup! He proceeded (after a barrage of French) to try to repair the vac, finally giving up (with another cascade of French... who knew the man knew so much French!?!?!?) and headed to the store to purchase a NEW shop vac.

Well... we got the mess cleaned up at last! Mr. G purchased some new shelving... metal shop shelves this time! He's always great fun when it comes to putting things like shelves together... he likes to try doing it without looking at the instructions at first (it's like a little game he plays with himself, I think)... then he has me read instructions to him while he assembles... during this step in our adventure, he generally second-guesses the words I read from the instruction sheet, stops what he's doing to read over my shoulder... and eventually we get into the swing of things and manage, as a team, to get the shelves assembled.
It's a routine we've mastered over the years.

Next step in this "re-assembling of the canning closet venture" included washing down all the jars that had come into contact with the spillage combination... we used a LOT of Dawn dishwashing liquid and vinegar and HOT water... and a couple pairs of rubber gloves! Then there was the spreading of towels over all countertops, tabletops, benches, and yes, even the spare bed... to allow the newly washed and rinsed jars of food to drain.

Then came the inspection process (this was my job entirely!)... I had to check the jars to see which, if any, had come unsealed or chipped in their tumble... and there had... MANY! So we dumped jars of food (such a waste!!!! such sadness!!!!) into buckets and hauled the contents out into the woods (so the dog wouldn't glut himself on the contents and kill himself... and so we wouldn't have to smell it... WHEW!!!! what a stink!!!!)

After that...

...more jar washing to clean up the ones we had emptied!

Then the fun part (not that this hadn't been fun!) ... putting the jars back on the new shelves...

This is where the blessing in disguise comes in (it was pretty well disguised at first, huh?)... I was able to organize all the remainder of the intact jars by type of food in them... in neat, tidy rows... I have a section for meats/main dishes, vegetables, soups, pickles and relishes, sauces, jams and jellies, dog food... and more. THIS was a satisfying part to the whole thing. At least to me! And I found some things that I had canned that I had totally forgotten about... felt like finding buried treasure! Yumminess!

Mr. G generally searches for things like a little boy does... you know... open the cabinet/fridge door and if it doesn't fall on his head he swears it's not in there. Well... I believe even HE can find whatever he is looking for in the new, improved, organized Canning Granny Canning Pantry (er, closet!)!!!

Happy Canning to All!!!!
Love,
Granny


Amish Recipe Series... Another Amish FROG Jam



Why do we see different Amish customs from community to community?

There is no central governing body for the Amish Church. Therefore, each congregation is left to answer these questions of policy on their own. Inevitably, solutions to identical issues vary from church to church.

Over a long period of time, differences in Amish customs have developed across the whole spectrum of Amish communities and individual congregations.

This explains why you see different types of dress, styles of beards, and different appearance of the horse and buggies as you travel throughout Amish country.

Although customs may differ from church to church they are still easily recognizable as “Amish customs." Traditions help the Amish preserve their identity and stay separate from the world.

Today's recipe... Remember... Disclaimer: The Amish don't always follow updated USDA canning methods, they follow methods passed down from generation to generation. Use this recipe at your own discretion, or adapt it to your own method. I am sharing these recipes EXACTLY as they were sent to me and take no responsibility for them.

FROG Jam
By Shannon Grady 

5 cups dried figs (~2 lbs), remove stems and quarter

2 cups orange juice

1 10oz bag frozen raspberries

1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

1 cup sugar (more or less to taste)

Cooking Instructions:

1. In a large SS pot add figs and orange juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover.

Cook until skins are soft and the seeds have been released (~15 minutes) stir every few minutes.

2. Using a stick blender, puree the fig skins (or allow mixture to cool and then put in a blender and puree). 

3. Add raspberries and ginger. Increase heat to medium and stir frequently. Cook until the raspberries have fallen apart and are well incorporated.

4. Add sugar to taste. Since there is no pectin in this recipe the amount of sugar doesn’t matter.

5. Canning method: water bath Additional Comments: Makes 5 to 6 8oz jars

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Amish Recipe Series... Easy Amish Refrigerator Dill Pickles

A jar of Amish Refrigerator Pickles from a
Swartzentruber Amish family in Ohio

Do Amish families play games?

Yes, Amish families do play games and read together in the evenings. Parents are involved in their children's activities. However, there are not long evenings in an Amish family. When the children get home from school, there are chores that must be done. At an early age, children have responsibilities assigned to them. After the evening meal, the school homework must be tackled, and before long it is bedtime. Amish are early risers and therefore go to bed early.

Today's recipe... Remember... Disclaimer: The Amish don't always follow updated USDA canning methods, they follow methods passed down from generation to generation. Use this recipe at your own discretion, or adapt it to your own method. I am sharing these recipes EXACTLY as they were sent to me and take no responsibility for them.
Easy Amish Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Ingredients
* 1 cup distilled white vinegar
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 2 cups white sugar
* 6 cups sliced cucumbers
* 1 cup sliced onions
* 1 cup sliced green bell peppers
Instructions
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil.
2. Boil until the sugar has dissolved, about 10 minutes.
3. Place the cucumbers, onions and green bell peppers in a large bowl.
4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables.
5. Transfer to sterile containers and store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Amish Recipe Series... Amish Chive Vinegar



What language do the Amish speak?
In their homes and in conversations with each other, the Old Order Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch, which is a dialect of German. We understand that it is similar to Platt that is spoken in parts of northern Germany. When children go to school they learn English. In their worship services the sermons are given in German. The German language, Deitch, is also taught in Amish schools.

Today's recipe... Remember... Disclaimer: The Amish don't always follow updated USDA canning methods, they follow methods passed down from generation to generation. Use this recipe at your own discretion, or adapt it to your own method. I am sharing these recipes EXACTLY as they were sent to me and take no responsibility for them.

Chive Vinegar

Found in mennonitegirlscancook

When chives are in bloom, make chive vinegar. In two weeks you'll have a vinegar that adds great flavour to salad dressings. I especially enjoy the addition of this vinegar in my potato salad dressing. To begin, sterilize a glass jar, then go and pick a bouquet of chives in bloom. Wash chives well and air dry. Fill jar 3/4 full with white vinegar, and add the dry chives.

Press chives into jar.

After 2 weeks the vinegar will be a nice soft pink. Using a cheesecloth strain the vinegar. Discard the chives and put the vinegar back into a clean jar. Store in a cool place. Chive vinegar has a stronger flavour so use it sparingly in place of regular vinegar in salad dressings and dip.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Amish Recipe Series... Amish Cherry Varenya



How do the Amish hold a funeral?

In Lancaster County, funeral and burial usually takes place three days after death. A funeral director from the local area assists in a minimal way, which usually includes embalming, and sometimes includes supplying the coffin and the hearse. In death, as in life the simplicity is evident. A plain wooden coffin is built. Often it is six-sided with a split lie - the upper part is hinged so it can be opened for viewing the body. It is very simple - no ornate carving or fine fabrics. Traditionally a woman will wear the white apron she wore on her wedding day. In some Amish communities both men and women wear white for burial. The tone of the two-hour Amish funeral service is hopeful, yet full of admonition for the living. There are no eulogies. Respect for the deceased is expressed, but not praise. A hymn is spoken but not sung. There are no flowers. The grave is hand dug in an Amish church district cemetery. There will be only a simple tombstone to mark the spot, much like all the other tombstones in the cemetery - in death as in life, we are all equal and do not elevate one person above another.

Today's recipe... Remember... Disclaimer: The Amish don't always follow updated USDA canning methods, they follow methods passed down from generation to generation. Use this recipe at your own discretion, or adapt it to your own method. I am sharing these recipes EXACTLY as they were sent to me and take no responsibility for them.

Amish Cherry Varenya 

From mennonitegirlscancook


A Cherry Syrup, also called Cherry Varenya is used to sweeten hot tea. They used whole pie cherries for this recipe.

1/2 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Whole Sour Cherries (Pie Cherries)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

You would increase the proportions of this recipe according to how many cherries you have on hand that you want to make into Varenya. Boil the water and sugar to make a clear simple syrup. When the liquid is clear add your cherries and let it boil for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on how hard the cherries were to begin with) At the end of the boiling add 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to help preserve the brightness of the syrup. You could increase the ingredients to have enough to can for future use. If you are familiar with canning I'm sure you can do it successfully with this syrup.

You can do this process with sliced lemons, too, to make a Lemon Varenya.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Amish Recipe Series... Amish Poor Man's Steak



Do Amish women still use midwives for childbirth?

Some Amish women go to English doctors and have their babies in local hospitals; others go to birthing centers; and some choose to have midwives who will deliver the babies at home. It is a matter of preference.


Today's recipe... Remember... Disclaimer: The Amish don't always follow updated USDA canning methods, they follow methods passed down from generation to generation. Use this recipe at your own discretion, or adapt it to your own method. I am sharing these recipes EXACTLY as they were sent to me and take no responsibility for them.

Amish Poor Man's Steak

Found on challengedsurvival.blogspot

I knew I did not own anything large enough to mix up all the ingredients so I went down to the Dollar General and bought a 35 quart Sterlite Container. After a little soap, bleach and drying I was ready.

5 cups of celery

5 cups of onions

crushed 6 tubes of saltines which is 1 1/2 pounds

cracked open and whisked 2 dozen eggs

5 cups of milk

the recipe just reads...salt and pepper. Don't you just hate it when that happens? So I added salt and pepper. I don't exactly remember how I came up with my equation but it worked out pretty well at the time. I figured the saltine crackers are salty and the condensed mushroom soup is going to be salty so I added what I thought would be right and I will tell you how much when (if) I find the piece of paper I scribbled it on..... Just in case you want to be as adventurous as me and try this recipe.

celery, onions, saltines, eggs, milk, salt and pepper mixed together.

add the 30 pounds of ground beef

now I warn you... Run you a sink of warm/hot water near where you are working. When you start mixing and mixing and mixing all of these cold ingredients with your washed, cleaned and naked hands you are going to want to plunge them into something very warm every few minutes. My hands were burning with cold.

I used the wide mouth rim and lid again to form the patties, just like I did when I made the meatloaf last week. Using this method will ensure the patties will fit into the wide mouth canning jars.

I baked in preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes and alternated the pans about half way through cooking time. It took me a little over 4 hours to cook them all. I piled up 2 huge roasting pan and covered them with tinfoil and placed them in the refrigerator as they came from the oven.

I put 1/2 cup of the strained fat into a skillet and heated over medium heat until hot.

Next I added 1/2 cup of plain flour. The secret to making a good gravy base is to stir, stir, stir and don't cook it too fast. You can control this by lifting your pan on and off the eye of the stove. You want to brown the flour slowly without burning it.

I had already put 5 cans of the mushroom soup along with 5 cans of water in a pot to begin warming. I think this was almost 2 quarts. Trust me again. The recipe doesn't say how much gravy to make but you are going to need to make a lot. When I make this again I will try to get a good measurement. I had to make gravy 3 times during canning and even ended up using two more cans of soup than the recipe called for.

I added some of the mushroom soup mixture to the browned flour. Be careful...it gets angry during this procedure. Keep adding and stirring and things will calm down.

I then added my base from the skillet to the pot of mushroom soup, stirred it in well and simmered while I reheated patties in the microwave. Put a patty in the jar, cover that with the gravy mixture and then another patty and more gravy until the ingredients are one inch from the top. I got 5 patties in a jar.

I processed these for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure on my dial gauge.

This recipe made 142 patties! I canned 28 quart jars

Photo of finished product as requested

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Amish Recipe Series... Amish Bread and Butter Pickles



What is the Ordnung that the Amish live by?

Donald B. Kraybill in his book, The Riddle of Amish Culture, writes: "The Amish blueprint for expected behavior, called the Ordnung, regulates private, public, and ceremonial life. Ordnung does not translate readily into English. Sometimes rendered as ordnance or discipline, the Ordnung is best thought of as an ordering of the whole way of life... a code of conduct which the church maintains by tradition rather than by systematic or explicit rules. A member noted: The order is not written down. The people just know it, that's all. Rather than a packet or rules to memorize, the Ordnung is the understood behavior by which the Amish are expected to live. In the same way that the rules of grammar are learned by children, so the Ordnung, the grammar of order, is learned by Amish youth. The Ordnung evolved gradually over the decades as the church sought to strike a delicate balance between tradition and change. Specific details of the Ordnung vary across church districts and settlements."

Today's recipe... Remember... Disclaimer: The Amish don't always follow updated USDA canning methods, they follow methods passed down from generation to generation. Use this recipe at your own discretion, or adapt it to your own method. I am sharing these recipes EXACTLY as they were sent to me and take no responsibility for them.

Amish Bread and Butter Pickles

Peggy Stolfus

1 gal. cucumbers
8 onions
2 green peppers 
2 red peppers

Slice cucumbers, peppers and onions. Pack in ice, and let it cool for 3 hours. Place a heavy weight on top the pickles (you can use a plate with a weight placed on top).

Drain well and combine with

5 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons celery seed
1½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cloves
5 cups vinegar

Mix well. Pour this mixture over the pickles and then simmer for half ­an ­hour. Seal bread ­and ­butter pickles in hot jars.
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