Saturday, March 31, 2012

One Year Anniversary Giveaway!

One year ago March 29, Canning Granny was born... it's been an amazing year! Two months before, I had read a book that had absolutely nothing to do with canning, One Second After. It made me stop and do some thinking... and I passed it on to my dear husband and he read it, and it made him do some thinking... and so began our quest for more independence, more self-reliance, more sustainability in our lives... we decided to simplify our lives... at the time we were living in town, in an apartment, in a very nice apartment complex... I had grown up and lived most of my life in the country, but had got a new, wonderful job and it was a choice we made... now we were facing a different choice... to get back to a simpler lifestyle... were we ready? 

One of the first things I mentioned to Mr. G was that I'd like to get back to canning... I'd done it all my life, I knew how... it would be a good first step... He responded with, "Well, what do you need to start back?" A pressure canner arrived within a few days... An All American 15.5 quart... it was AWESOME... and I began immediately to can... it was January and there were no fresh vegetables and fruits, so I canned meat, chicken... shrimp... meatloaf... beef stew... and more.

One weekend I was in the kitchen doing my canning thing and Mr. G walked in and gave me a hug and said, "My Little Canning Granny! Hey, you should write a blog... there's your name, Canning Granny." Canning Granny was born as easy as that...

Since then, we've moved BACK to the country, bought a house and a little piece of God's earth, we've planted fruit trees, we've built half a chicken coop with plans for chickens soon, we've purchased a tiller and plowed up the front yard for a garden, we've started planting vegetables... we're honing old skills we haven't used in awhile like sewing, crochet, carpentry, gardening, pruning, and more...and we're learning new skills like herbal medicine and many other DIY projects... there is still LOTS to do, but we are enjoying this life to the fullest... our stress level has dropped and our enjoyment of life has risen... we once took weekends away to just get out of the city... now we're more than content to putter around the house and garden... Life is good!

This past year would NOT have been possible without you wonderful people, our readers... Words simply cannot express my appreciation and gratitude to you... I am humbled and amazed each and every day by your support and trust in me. Thank you is not enough, but Thank You nonetheless...

And as a token of my extreme appreciation, I have made a little something to give to one of you wonderful readers... Here it is... an apron with canning jars appliqued on it... Your very own Canning Granny Apron...I hope you like it. I had fun making it!

And here's what you need to do for a chance to receive this gift...

1. "Like" Canning Granny on Facebook, or if you already do, say so in your comment below.

2. Comment below, say "Happy Anniversary" or "I love you" or whatever you want to say. Please include your first name and last initial, otherwise I won't know who you are... if you are comfortable with sharing your email address in the comment section, include that and I will email you if your name is chosen, otherwise I will announce the winner's name on Facebook.

On Tuesday, April 3, at 7 p.m. (EDT) I will draw a name using and will announce the winner on Facebook... the winner will have 48 hours to respond by emailing me at with his/her name and mailing address.

Again, I thank you one and all... 

Let the comments commence!!!! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Conspiracy and Deception... at its Finest...

Friday morning I got up at the usual time, made coffee, made Mr. G's lunch and a to-go cup of coffee... he arose, dressed, drank a cup of coffee, got his things together, and headed out to work at the usual time... 6:30 a.m. I spent some time on the internet, took my shower, fed the dog, got dressed, got MY things together and headed out to work at the usual time... 8:20 a.m. Same stuff, different day.

Unbeknownst to me, Mr. G had taken the day off, had driven up the road to the service station where he parked and waited for me to leave for work, then went back home to clean house, grocery shop for the weekend, and begin preparing supper.

On Fridays I usually get off work an hour or two earlier than the rest of the week, so, as usual, I headed home Friday afternoon with plans to cook a nice dinner, and spend the rest of the weekend planting, cleaning house, the usual.

When I arrived home, Mr. G was already home... the dishes were done and the house was immaculate, he was at the sink dicing potatoes... something UN-usual was going on... but not VERY unusual... YET! I asked my dear husband just how long he had been home... "Oh, I had an early day today..."

O...K... still not VERY unusual... but I was getting a feeling things were not exactly what they seemed...

Mr. G announced that he was in the mood for barbecued chicken on the grill, would I please make up a batch of my homemade barbecue sauce... sure... so I did... he looked in the saucepan and once again announced, "I don't think that's going to be enough, do you mind making a little more?" I responded, "What are you planning on barbecuing, a whole pig?" He laughed, I made more sauce... I began to suspect all was not USUAL... but couldn't put my finger on anything substantial...

An hour or so later, my honey and I were sitting on our back deck talking... he mentioned that Smokey Dog was surprised by a substitute mail lady who had driven up our driveway earlier to bring a package (my order of seed potatoes)... WAIT a minute... I said, "Just how long have you BEEN home, our mail comes at 10 a.m.!" To which he responded, "Do you want to hear about this, or do you want to play 20 questions, I had an early day." We laughed and continued to chat... (at this point, I'm curious but I'm still pretty much oblivious to the deception that had been going on around me)

Around 6 p.m. things began to happen, much to my surprise...

My daughter, Hannah and her intended, Nick arrived... I was so surprised and delighted (my children live about 2-1/2 hours away and visit maybe 2-3 times a year)... Mr. G, on the other hand, seemed not surprised at all... Hmmm... the plot thickens...

We visited and talked and laughed for awhile... about 8 p.m. it was decided to start the grill and cook some chicken and sausages for supper... Hannah helped mix up some potato salad with the potatoes Mr. G had diced and cooked earlier... I chopped lettuce for a green salad... Hannah peered over my shoulder an stated that she didn't think it would be enough lettuce, would I please chop some more... WHAT? It was plenty for the four of us... but I dutifully chopped more... couldn't let "company" go without plenty to eat...

About the time I got the lettuce chopped, Hannah let out a giggle, I looked up, and there in my kitchen doorway stood my son, Caleb and his sweet wife, Kaila... I squealed, hugged all over them, and declared that this was a wonderful surprise... the four of them visiting for the weekend...

Kaila announced, "Mom, this is our birthday surprise for you (my birthday was 4 days before), we have reservations in the morning at 11:15 at Laura's Tea Room for you, me, and Hannah." I was beyond excited! Ever since we moved just outside the little town of Ridgeway, S.C., I had been telling them I wanted "us girls" to have tea at Laura's!

We ate, we visited, we laughed, we talked until the wee hours... then up next morning and got ready for our tea party at Laura's... I was so overwhelmed with delight!

We arrived at Laura's a little early, the girls seemed eager to get there (it's only 5 minutes from our house!)... the guys said they might go fishing for us to enjoy our outing and not to rush back, they were good to go with plans of their own...

We spent some time browsing the wonderful little gift shop on the ground floor at the tea room... then our hostess came for us, telling us that we could wait on the mezzanine between the floors while our table was being set up... and while waiting, there were hats... of every shape, size, and color... we were welcome to try on hats while we waited and could choose one to wear to tea if we wanted...

Like three little girls playing dress-up, we tried on hats...

Hannah and I hamming it up in what we dubbed our "church
lady" hats...
Hannah and I in floppy garden hats...

Hannah looking chic in a zebra print and black number...
Hannah looking very "flapper-esque" in this little bit of
millinery delight

Kaila and Hannah sporting garden chapeaus

Kaila in her red satin, poofy, wide brim, and myself in a
purple "church lady" topper

Sweet Kaila models yet another wide-brimmed bonnet

Getting a little silly in this pink
headpiece trimmed with purple veiling.
A walk on the wacky side in a hot pink
The three of us, garden party girl, flapper girl, and "crazy" church lady!

Soon we were called upstairs for "High Tea" so we chose our tea hats and followed our hostess up the stairs where we were led to a table covered with an eclectic assortment of antique teacups, saucers, and tiny teaspoons... we were given direction to choose our own cup in which to enjoy our tea...

My teacup was a delicate white china
cup with robins painted on the side...

We started off with an iced blueberry hibiscus tea while we perused the tea menu... we would be served the Irish Breakfast blend, hot, while we decided on two teapots full from the menu...

Kaila and Hannah discuss which teas to try...
Hannah enjoying Mango Passion tea from her
leopard print teacup. 
Kaila REALLY liked the fruity iced tea
Hamming it up while enjoying a cup of Monk's Blend
(a black tea flavored with vanilla and grenadine)
As we sipped our teas... we were treated to a first course of blueberry scones served with raspberry jam or Devonshire cream.

The second course included a veggie quiche with a choice of green salad with strawberries, mandarin oranges, and pecans... or Laura's homemade tomato basil bisque... I chose salad, the girls chose soup (which was yummy! I tried some!)

The third, and final course was served on a lovely three tiered serving plate... cucumber sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, Dubliner cheese on wheat toast, and chicken salad on mini-croissants... then apples on cinnamon bread with cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese on banana nut bread, and green fluff tarts... then strawberries dipped in green chocolate (it was St. Patrick's Day) and chocolate filled cream puffs.

Such a fun time, much talking and laughter, and amazing service! We browsed the gift shops and the antique shop in town (Ridgeway is tiny, it's main claims to fame are: it is home to the Nation's Smallest Police Station, it hosts the annual Pig on the Ridge BBQ, Town Hall was once Confederate Headquarters for two weeks, Laura's Tea Room, Cotton Yard Market Antique Shop, and R.H. Lee and Company Auctioneers). We ran some errands, did a little more shopping in Columbia, then headed home late in the afternoon.

Again, unbeknownst to me, the girls had been given orders to keep me away from the house for as long as possible... those boys had yet another surprise up their collective sleeves.

We returned home to find the guys, not fishing at all... but building a roof on our back deck! Imagine my incredible surprise!

My sweet husband, Hugh, aka Mr. Granny
My beloved son, Caleb
My son-in-law to be, Nick

Apparently, this scheme of conspiracy and deception had been in the works for at least a month... there had been clandestine phone calls making plans... The girls had devised the idea to take me to tea to get me out of the house, Mr. G had made the reservations weeks ago. Mr. G had taken photos of the existing deck, sent them via email to Caleb, who drew up a plan, composed a materials list, and emailed it back to Mr. G, who proceeded to purchase the supplies... and hid them in plain sight in our back yard... near the pile of pallets we have... with leaves blown over them to camouflage them from my view (I parked my car EVERY DAY in view of that pile of wood! and never saw it!) I have come to the conclusion that I am completely oblivious! Or, perhaps, this crew is just that sneaky!

Caleb swings from the rafters of the new covered porch

They ran into a few obstacles with shoring up the foundation and had to finish up their project on Sunday morning... I, in my gratitude, made them a "working man's breakfast" of ham, eggs, biscuits and red eye gravy, and fruit before they completed their task.

I am blessed... I have always known this, but it's such a beautiful thing to see it put into action yet again. I love this group of conspirators... my dear husband who came up with the beginnings of the wonderful plan... my son Caleb for drawing it up and seeing it through... our newest family member Nick, for his hard work and dedication... my daughter Hannah for her sneaky part in the plot, for enjoying tea with me, for shopping and laughing, and for buying me an adorable ceramic green pepper at the antique shop... and for my daughter-in-law Kaila for devising the strategy to get me out of the house, for hanging out an entire Saturday with her mother-in-law (and enjoying it!)... I love them all for SO SO many other reasons!

The deck (now porch) is yet to have it's permanent roofing installed, we plan to add metal roofing as soon as we decide what kind (and save up the money for it) so for now we have temporary roofing (two tarps pulled tightly over and fastened well)... My son calls it our Redneck Porch, Mr. G calls it our Hurricane Relief Porch... I call it a Labor of Love... and am enjoying the cool breezes that blow through as I sit in my rocking chair enjoying my coffee each morning, watching and listening to spring awaken in the Sunny South... and memories of a loving, laughing, working family who contrived through sweet trickery to put it all together.

Sweet Little Kaila, exhausted after a long day at tea and shopping.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Herbal Medicine Part 6: The "Spaghetti" Herbs

Herbalist Robin McGee recommends growing what she dubs "The Spaghetti Herbs" as much as possible... for culinary as well as medicinal purposes... These herbs... sage, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme have so many medicinal uses...

Garden sage (salvia officinalis) is a valuable antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral agent. Taken internally, sage will fight infection and will also diminish secretions of all kinds, including perspiration and saliva.

The herb is said to stimulate memory.

Sage tea makes an antibacterial mouthwash and astringent gargle for sore throat.

It is useful for drying up milk production during weaning (therefore should NOT be used by nursing mothers as it will dry up milk).

The leaves of the sage plant are used, harvested from the plant just prior to flowering, stripped from the stem and used fresh or dried.


Basil is as a natural anti-inflammatory. It is similar to compounds found in oregano and medical marijuana, and may be used as a substitute for the latter because it offers the same relief without the “high.” It is believed to help combat bowel inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis.

Basil contains cinnamanic acid, which has been found to enhance circulation, stabilize blood sugar, and improve breathing in those with respiratory disorders.

Basil is very high in antioxidants, especially when it is used as an extract or oil. These antioxidants can protect your body against free radical damage associated with aging and skin ailments. 

Basil has antibacterial properties and the fresh leaves can be used to disinfect surfaces. Leaves, applied to wounds, may eliminate infections. Basil leaves can be made into a tea used for quenching fevers.

Basil is used as an ingredient in cough syrups and expectorants as it relieves mucus in asthma and bronchitis. Chewing on basil leaves can relieve colds and flu symptoms.

Pediatric complaints like colds, coughs, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting have been know to respond to treatment with the juice of basil leaves. 

Chewing a few leaves twice daily can cure infections and ulcerations of the mouth.

Dry basil leaves in the sun and grind into powder for a tooth cleansing powder. 

Oregano, used medicinally, has broad activity as an antioxidant (cell-protector), antiseptic, preservative, and antifungal.

A tea or tincture of oregano may be taken for viral or bacterially mediated colds and upper respiratory infections.

The essential oils exert an antiseptic influence on lungs, bronchi, and nasal passages.

The leaves, flowers, and bracts of oregano are used without the stems... harvested in flowering stage and used fresh or dried.

The practical uses for rosemary are legion!

Rosemary is a classic digestive, nerve, and circulatory tonic. It is a good treatment for low energy, low blood pressure, and poor circulation. The herb improves memory and lifts the spirits. The tincture, tea, or even the fresh plant may be rubbed freely into areas of poor circulation.

To discourage lice infestation, the essential oil or a strong tincture can be used for dressing the hair and hairbrush. 

Rosemary, used in a steam, will break up congestion and relieve a sinus infection.

Rosemary limits the incidence of cellular damage resulting from eating saturated fats cooked at high temperatures.

Thyme is a good astringent and an active antiseptic, most useful for treating upper respiratory infection, either viral or bacterial. The herb allays cough and bronchitis... make thyme tea especially for a wet  cough.

Thyme leaves may be used as a disinfectant.

The leaves are harvested just prior to flowering, removed from the stems and used fresh or dried.

*Information gleaned from Herbal Medicine Workshop taught by Herbalist Robin McGee, and from the book "Making Plant Medicine" by Richo Cech.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Herbal Medicine Part 5: Comforting Comfrey

Comfrey in bloom

The herbalist/instructor at the herbal medicine workshop I attended told this story about one of her comfrey experiences...

Early in Robin McGee's herbalist life, her daughter injured her collar bone... off to the doctor they went, x-rays were taken, and sure enough, the collar bone was broken... after returning home, Robin decided to treat her daughter's broken bone with comfrey salve as it is said to heal broken bones... AND she wanted to prove to the doctor that it worked... so for three weeks she applied comfrey salve topically to the area 2-3 times a day. When it was time for her daughter's 3-week check of the afflicted area, back to the doctor they went, where she requested another x-ray of the area. The doctor told her there was no need for another x-ray... there wouldn't be enough healing so soon to warrant another x-ray... Robin was determined, she needed to prove to the doctor, but mostly to herself, that her methods were making a difference (remember this was early in her career as an herbalist)... She told the doctor, "Hey, dude, you're working for me... take the x-ray!" He did...

The results? The doctor, after reading the x-ray, said, "The first x-ray must have been incorrect, I see no broken bone here." Hmmm... Victory! The comfrey had worked... Robin does say that looking back, she might have used mullein along with the comfrey due to the fact that comfrey alone heals so quickly that sometimes it "over-heals" leaving calcium deposits... but she had proven to the doctor, and to herself, that she was right.

Comfrey plant
Comfrey speeds the healing of cuts, ulcerations, bruises, broken bones, pulled muscles and ligaments, and sprains.

The root and/or leaf of the the plant can be harvested any time during its growth cycle, but preferably not when in full flower... it can be used fresh or dried. After flowering, the plants are cut back, mulched with their own stems, leaves, and flowers, and allowed to grow back through the green mulch.

An infused oil may be made using dried comfrey leaves or roots to make a healing salve. Cover the dried comfrey with a good oil (I use olive), set it in a sunny window for 3-6 weeks, then strain out and use as is or add beeswax to make a salve.

The best comfrey for use in medicine is symphytum officinale... Russian comfrey (symphytum asperum) and other hybridized types are much higher in echimidine (a liver toxic PA) and should be avoided.

Contraindications: Comfrey should not be used during pregnancy or while nursing. Comfrey tincture should not be taken internally for more than 3 weeks at a time as a tonic. Comfrey should not be used externally on new puncture wounds or deep cuts, due to the likelihood that the outer skin layers will be stimulated to close up and heal prior to the draining and regeneration of deeper tissues. Instead, first use Epsom salt soaks containing calendula or chamomile tincture. Once the swelling and pain have subsided and the wound is clean and healing normally, comfrey may be safely and effectively applied to speed the process.*

*From the book Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech
Gaia Herbs Comfrey Compound
Not long after I attended the herbal medicine workshop, I got to try out what I learned... On Mr. Granny! He was chasing an escape parakeet through the house before the dog got her, and kicked the pedestal on the dining room table... after a few French words, and getting the bird safely back in her cage, we checked out the injury... his pinky toe was black and swollen, three other toes were purple, half his foot was blue and swelling quickly... knowing that there isn't much a doctor will/can do for a broken toe, we made a trip to the local health food market in town, our wonderful little Rosewood Market, and bought a jar of Gaia Herbs Comfrey Compound (contains comfrey root, marshmallow root, mullein herb, skullcap herb, black walnut hulls, white oak bark, gravel root, lobelia, St. John's wort flower bud oil, olive oil and beeswax) and some bulk dried comfrey root and leaves (to mix up my own later)

We began treatment... by soaking in Epsom salts, followed by an application of the Comfrey Compound twice a day... the swelling was gone after two days, the bruising lessening every day until it disappeared by day 3... the pain was gone within a week. I felt victorious!!!!

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