Do you can meat?

I finally canned the last of the pureed tomatoes from last year and thought I was ready to put the canners away until harvest time again, until something that's been nibbling at the back of my mind made itself known.

With the power outage earlier this winter, there was the threat of losing the food I'd so carefully put away in the freezer. Good, grass finished beef, some wild meat, some organically raised chickens, some trout from the stream. If it had all gone, I don't know what I would have eaten. I have maybe 6 jars of home canned trout, the same of chicken soup and that's about it as far as canned meat goes.

That would have been a very limited diet and wouldn't have lasted long - maybe two weeks or three if I stretched it.

So... on my mind: Canning meat. I want to can up some of the ground meat, especially. Meatballs? Or "hamburger stew." Or... ? Any ideas? Have you canned beef or chicken? How did it go? I'm still a little leery of it, but having eaten both the soup and the canned trout with no ill effects, I have a little more courage now.


What's up?

I was standing in line at Walmart this afternoon when I saw a bag of Hershey's candy. Three Musketeers, Snickers and whatever other candy bar they have like that. I honestly thought (briefly) about buying some, but then I looked at the price. Nine dollars. Precisely $8.98. For candy?

On the other side were candy bars, all a dollar a piece. My mental calculator, limited though it is, was whirring. I have a small piece of chocolate here at home, the kind you're supposed to melt to coat things with. I also have a few peanuts in the bottom of a package. Why not combine the two and make my own candy bar for free? Or I could bake cookies. Or make a pie.

As I looked around, it dawned on me how lavishly people live and how I must be living all cramped up. I could no more pay nine dollars for a bag of candy than I could pay nine hundred for a meal. It just isn't in me.

Other things I noticed (not all at Walmart):
Flour has gone up about 20 cents for five pounds.
Sugar is back up, after a brief fall over the holidays.

Also, watch this. The price of beef will be dipping soon as ranchers sell off their stock because of wide areas of drought... BUT, the price will soon soar higher than it's been because after the glut there will be a shortage.

Does "shortage" ring a bell? I think we've been there. Remember the coffee shortage? The sugar shortage? The threat of a wheat shortage? The threat of food shortages altogether? Don't ignore them. It's going to hit where it hurts.


Wash it, hang it, iron it.

The old Maytag company doesn't exist any more, so these old machines are hard to find. I was ecstatic when my brother-in-law sold this one to me. I use it often.

I hang clothes on the line outside when I can. During those frigid times when laundry freezes as it's being hung, I sometimes hang it downstairs in the basement.

And... I iron my cloth napkins and cloth hankies. I cut up old clothes and socks for cleaning and dusting rags.

So what's the point of this post? I don't know. Maybe I just wanted to show off a bit. :)


I'm grateful for...

Nope, it's not Thanksgiving. I'm staying positive, so here are some things I'm grateful for today.

Presidential elections only come once every four years.
My TV has an off switch.
I don't have anything that I HAVE to do today.
The tomato sauce from last year's garden is excellent.
I found a brand new, sealed in the box, jigsaw puzzle at the thrift store.
My kids put up with my eccentricities without threatening the old folk's home - so far.
Spring is coming again.
I won't have to buy many seeds this year.
The wind blew down two large limbs from the neighbors tree and they landed on either side of the car without even touching it.

What about you?


Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes)

It's the middle of winter and I'm going to dig up some Jerusalem artichokes for a salad today. It still seems odd to me to harvest the best vegetables when they're under snow, but these 'chokes are so good right now. I don't know why it took me so long to get them started.

If you've never tried them, think about planting a few this year. You can eat them like potatoes, but you can eat them raw, too. I can't describe the taste; you'll just have to taste them for yourself.

Try them raw, then slice and fry or boil them. They cook very quickly. Use them in stir fry, but don't put them in until everything else is done. They can take the place of water chestnuts.


Dreams of the New Year

What better time to drool over the new seed catalogs than during a snowstorm? None, really.. but since there's no snowstorm in the immediate future, I drooled anyway. Why is it that everything looks so good, so fresh, so abundant in the catalogs? I want two of everything - no, make that three.

This year will be the year I have a great corn crop, tons of tomatoes, beans growing like weeds and squash that behaves itself. This year I will go out every morning and pull weeds and do whatever needs doing in the garden. This year I will keep the strawberries watered and fertilized. This year the plums will go into butter and jelly instead of on the ground for the bugs to eat.

This year, like every other year, is filled with dreams, with anticipation. This year. It's like no other and yet, it's like every other top of the year. We can look down the road and make it anything we want.

Never mind that hailstorms might flatten the corn and hornworms might find the tomatoes. Those things are just hazy possibilities. In my dreams, they don't really exist.

I hope you have a wonderful, dream filled New Year.


Cleaning House

Does everyone get the urge to clean house right after Christmas? Not just "clean house" but CLEAN house. You know what I mean. You start dusting a cabinet and wind up sorting the contents and getting rid of half of it. Empty shelves remind you that you have a box of "stuff" in the closet that needs a better home, so you start putting some of it in the cabinet. The rest goes in the giveaway pile. The empty spot in the closet reminds you that you really need a shoe rack... and on it goes.

That kind of cleaning house. I've been at it for almost a full week now and honestly, there's no end in sight. I figure that by the time I go through the entire house, it will be time to start over.

But that's okay. It's ridiculous for one person to have so much "stuff."

I've discovered that I've been holding on to some stuff because I got caught in a rut. I used to enjoy plastic canvas needlepoint, so I have tons of patterns for it. I subscribed to five different plastic canvas magazines at one point! I've kept them for several years, thinking that I would get back to it again. I won't. I tried and I don't want to do it any more. I had to turn loose of that part of me that enjoyed it.

Turning loose of who I was was definitely unsettling. It's kind of like cleaning house in my mind.

Well, it may be too early to philosophize, but it's hard to let go of some things, even though they don't suit us any more. We can't move forward unless we turn loose of the past.

And that's my deep thought for the day. Or maybe the week. :)