Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sometimes a Granny's Gotta Rant

We bought a new house... we closed Friday evening... DELAY!!! Since we closed after banking hours AND it was a holiday weekend, the funds wouldn't post until Tuesday and the seller wasn't comfortable being liable by going ahead and handing over the keys...SO...

A long weekend with no new house... I was not a happy camper, but understood and sucked it up and dealt with it... We spent the weekend packing and cleaning... on Memorial Day we went furniture "looking" and found the perfect living room suite... so we bought it... a lovely tan leather reclining sofa, loveseat with coffee and end tables... and a really really nice entertainment center on sale... bought it too and scheduled delivery for Wednesday. Things were looking good.

I had to work Tuesday but DH planned to go as soon as he got the call from the attorney and pick up the key, then head to the new house with a load of packed boxes and plans to do some yard work, some work on the well and to schedule appliance delivery. When I got home from work, the plan was to take the paint samples I've been carrying around in my purse for WEEKS, hold them up to the walls, make color decisions then go buy paint, that way we can get most of the painting we plan to do done by the time the movers come... MUCH easier to paint without having to work around furniture and such, so it seemed to be a great plan... and is!

DH waited for the call... and waited... and waited... finally his patience gave out so he started making calls... 

Well my friends... it seems one of the owners (there are two, siblings who inherited the property, one here in town, the other out of state and sending her paperwork in by proxy)... had neglected to sign and have witnesses in TWO different places... sign at the X... how hard could it be, I ask you??? Nevertheless, it happened and now we wait "just one more day" to get the keys...

DH and I have both called several times all afternoon to find out the status of the resolution to this new issue... we've both got recordings saying "*ting...ting... ting... I'm sorry, all circuits are busy, please try your call later" ALL afternoon... can't get through.

So we sit... and wait... and have no way of contacting anyone to find out anything...

Hey, I'm normally a calm, patient person... I follow the rules... I go through the proper channels... 

Right now I'm angry, frustrated, and have no recourse except to sit... and wait... until SOMEBODY gets their ducks in a row and gives me the keys to MY HOUSE!!!

Sorry, folks, I had to get that off my chest before I explode!

And now, I guess I'll put on my big girl panties and deal with it...

As my hero Maxine says... 

"When life pulls you down, it might be time to pick yourself up by your own bra straps!"

Thanks for listening to this ol' Granny have a li'l rant... I feel better now!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Canning Granny Relocation Plan

Welcome to my world!

Well, folks, the time has come for the Canning Granny Kitchen Corporate Headquarters to relocate.

We're going back to the country where we belong, so for the next couple of weeks there will not be much, if any, canning going on. And there won't be much blogging as I'm certain you dear readers don't care to hear about packing millions and millions of boxes, furniture shopping, appliance shopping, well-chlorinating, lawn mowing, garden layout, wall painting, gravel spreading, curtain choosing,... back aching, rubber legs, sore feet... Whining Granny!

Yesterday I packed our coffee cups, the plan was to leave two out along with the coffee pot... Yep! this morning I made coffee, went to pour it, and wouldn't you know it... I had packed all but ONE cup! Had to dig through and locate ONE more!

We closed on our rural location Friday (Yayness!) but due to the lateness in the day plus a holiday weekend, we won't be able to pick up the keys until Tuesday... Oh the pain of waiting, I feel like somebody gave me a birthday present, then told me I couldn't open it!

So I continue to pack... there's a maze of boxes meandering throughout the house... maybe I should have drawn a map to the front door, it's growing farther and farther away... or maybe I could have put a piece of cheese there seeing as we are now the mice in this maze, maybe we could find it by sniffing it out! 

Anyhow, enough of this silly nonsense... the goal is in sight, our mini-farm-to-be awaits, and the canning shall commence... and I'm super excited about the new pantry I have planned, and am looking forward to the increased workspace in the new kitchen... Yay to the Yayness! 

Here's a glimpse of where I'll be working soon... Yes, I'm stoked!

For now, I must add another segment to my ever-growing mouse maze! and hope I can find the front door.

Back to canning soon... blueberries will be in soon, and peaches, and green beans, cucumbers (PICKLES!!)... Oh my gosh! I better get packing!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Canning Orange Squash (Orangeade Concentrate)

There's nothing more refreshing in the heat and humidity of a Southern summer than a tall, cool glass of Lemon Squash (the British term for Lemonade, I just LOVE the name!)... unless, of course, it's Orange Squash... takes me back to the days of going to the mall for an Orange Julius, my favorite refreshment when I was a teenager.

Combining the Britishness and the Deep South, I canned up my own Orange Squash Concentrate to have on hand on those sweltering summer days.

Here's what I did...

I washed and sterilized half-pint canning jars and kept them hot until I was ready for them.

I put my lids and rings in water to simmer and keep hot on the stove.

I gave my oranges a good wash, I used 10 or 12 oranges.

I zested four of the oranges.

I brought a pot of water to a boil, then added the oranges to the boiling water and left them there for two or three minutes. This loosens them up and will coax the most amount of juice from them. Don't throw out that orange infused water either... it will be used in a bit.

I squeezed the juice from the oranges.

Then strained it through a fine mesh wire strainer to remove the big bits of pulp.

This made 2 cups of juice, which I poured into a saucepan, adding 2 cups of the orange infused water...

... two cups of granulated sugar...

... and the zest from the 4 oranges I zested earlier...

I brought the mixture to just a boil.

...then strained the mixture, once again, through a fine wire mesh strainer to remove the zest.

I filled my jars, leaving a half inch of headspace, added the lids to a fingertip tightness...

... and processed them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. After the processing, I removed the jars from the boiling water using my jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool... and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar!

There was a little bit left over... I made myself a lovely glass of Orange Squash... one part orangeade concentrate to four parts water... I added ice and a sprig of mint and enjoyed my refreshing Orange Squash on the porch in the morning sunshine with the birds singing... Ahhhhh!!! Summertime!!!!

Side Note: When I posted my process for canning Lemon Squash a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I dehydrated the leftover lemon peel. A reader commented that another use for leftover lemon peel or orange peel was to stack the peelings tightly in a canning jar, fill the jar with white vinegar, leaving for 3 or 4 weeks, then discard the peel and fill a spray bottle halfway with the orange scented vinegar, and fill the rest of the bottle with water... Voila! An all natural, inexpensive, effective orange scented cleaner! So I followed this advice...

Thank you, dear reader, for a wonderful idea! Can't wait to use my homemade orange cleaner!

Canning Granny©2011 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Canning Green Peas

(Just between you and me, I LOVE that man's hands!)

Green peas, sweet peas, English peas, spring peas, garden peas... whichever nomenclature you give them, a pea by any other name would still be pea green... and yummy beside a scoop of mashed potatoes and a slice of meatloaf, or added to the creamy sauce in a chicken pot pie.

On a recent trip to the Farmers Market, we became the proud owners of a half bushel of peas! My able assistant, the love of my life, my dear husband announced that while I worked on other canning projects, he would shell those peas for me to can later. 

He gathered a large bowl for the pods and a colander for the peas... turned the television to his favorite channel and sat back and began the pea shelling...

Remember the movie Driving Miss Daisy? There's a scene in that movie that I was reminded of as I watched DH's pea shelling preparations... Hoke and Idella (the housekeeper) were sitting in the kitchen watching their soaps while Idella shelled peas in a colander in her lap... sort of the same way DH was doing. I began calling him Idella... "Idella you're doing a great job there!"

That sweet man was persistent... though he did take a lot of breaks... once he stopped for awhile and drifted off for a short nap with a half-filled colander in his lap and I was even more reminded of Idella and her pea shelling... you see, in the scene from the movie, Idella's chin dropped to her chest, the colander dropped to the floor, and peas scattered everywhere... Idella had passed away shelling peas. Needless to say, I quickly woke up my Idella and requested (strongly!) that if he planned to take a nap to please set the pea bowl elsewhere. (yes, I was a little freaked out!)

By the time I was finished with my other project, that dear persistent man had all those peas shelled and ready for me to begin my part of the process.

Here's what I did...

I washed and sterilized my pint canning jars and kept them hot until I was ready for them.

I put my lids and rings in water on the stove and brought them to a simmer, keeping them hot as well.

Then I rinsed the peas several times, removing any loose bits of pod, leaves, grit, etc.

I poured them into a saucepan and covered them with water and heated them to a boil.

Once the peas reached a boil, I removed them from the heat and drained them through the (cleaned and rinsed!) colander, draining the liquid into another saucepan (don't discard the liquid, it will be used in just a sec).

I filled the pint jars loosely with the peas to within about a half inch from the rim.

Then, using the cooking liquid I had drained earlier, I filled the jars, leaving a half inch of head space and covering the peas with the liquid. I made sure there were no air pockets.

I added a half teaspoon of canning salt to each pint jar (quarts would need a teaspoon).

I wiped the jar rims with a damp cloth.

I tightened the lids onto the jars using a fingertip tightness.

Green peas are a low-acid vegetable and must be pressure canned, so I got out my pressure canner, and, following the directions that came with my brand of canner, I loaded the jars of peas into the canner.

I processed my jars at 10 pounds of pressure for 40 minutes. After the process was complete, I removed the canner from the heat and let it cool on its own, the pressure returning to ZERO, before removing the lid and lifting the jars out with my jar lifter and placing the jars on a folded dish towel to cool and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar. (have I said I LOVE that sound? I do!)

After a long afternoon of pea shelling and canning, and even after an interrupted nap, both Idella and I slept well that night, with the satisfyingly productive feeling of teamwork and a job well done! 

Canning Squash Jam

When you are growing squash... it's feast or famine! When squash grows well, it REALLY grows well. You eat squash every day... you can it, freeze it, fry it, bake it, casserole it, make it into bread, soup, salad... give it to your friends, neighbors, co-workers... leave it in baskets on strangers' doorsteps, ring the bell and run!

So... while browsing the www looking for squash recipes, I happened upon this recipe for squash jam and was immediately intrigued... some creative person apparently with a bumper crop of squash, had put together this recipe and I just had to give it a try.

Here's what I did...

The recipe...

6 cups squash, grated or shredded
1/4 cup water
20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
1 package powdered pectin (Sure-Jel)
3 oz. package strawberry Jello (or any other flavor Jello that strikes your fancy)
4 teaspoons minced crystallized ginger

I grated my squash.

In a saucepan, I put the grated squash and the 1/4 cup of water, brought it to a boil and simmered until the squash was soft.

Then I added the pectin and brought the mixture to a hard boil (hard boil is a boil that cannot be stirred down)

I added the 5 cups of sugar, all at once.

Stirred in the can of crushed pineapple.

And added the minced ginger.

I brought the mixture back to a hard boil and boiled for 5 minutes.

I removed the pot from the heat, then added the package of strawberry Jello, stirring it in well.

I ladled the hot mixture into hot half-pint canning jars, leaving a half inch of headspace.

I wiped the jar rims with a damp cloth.

Using my magnetic wand gadget, I took the hot lids from the simmering water and sealed them onto the jars to fingertip tightness.

I processed the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

After processing, I removed the jars of jam from the water bath using my jar lifter and set them on a folded dish towel on the counter to cool and to listen for the PING of each successfully sealed jar.

The jam is so pretty in the jars with the addition of strawberry Jello giving it a rosy red color. With the texture of the grated squash, this jam is kinda marmalade-ish in texture, and very sweet. I think, next time I may use orange or lemon Jello.

Canning Granny©2011 All Rights Reserved

html, body, div, span, applet, object, iframe, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, p, blockquote, pre, a, abbr, acronym, address, big, cite, code, del, dfn, em, font, img, ins, kbd, q, s, samp, small, strike, strong, sub, sup, tt, var, b, u, i, center, dl, dt, dd, ol, ul, li, fieldset, form, label, legend, table, caption, tbody, tfoot, thead, tr, th, td { margin: 0; padding: 0; border: 0; outline: 0; font-size: 100%; vertical-align: baseline; background: transparent; } body { line-height: 1; } ol, ul { list-style: none; } blockquote, q { quotes: none; } /* remember to define focus styles! */ :focus { outline: 0; } /* remember to highlight inserts somehow! */ ins { text-decoration: none; } del { text-decoration: line-through; } /* tables still need 'cellspacing="0"' in the markup */ table { border-collapse: collapse; border-spacing: 0; }