They like egg shells and coffee grounds..egg shells help with the ph balance in your bin.
Today I want to talk about worms. They really are a wonderful source of readily accessible nitrogen for plants. The worms eat leftovers and turn them into nitrogen...I just love that.
Here is my worm bin. I keep it in my garage. Right under that yellow dot is a spigot. That is for draining the 'worm tea' off so it can be used for fertilizer. It is all the fluids created by the fresh scraps you feed the worms. I have coconut coir in here for bedding for the worms. I comes in a brick which you soak in water so it breaks apart easily. Then you drain off the excess. Worms eat scraps. No meat, fish, grease, or meat by-products like pet food. If you chop the feed into small pieces the worms can eat it faster.
They like egg shells and coffee grounds..egg shells help with the ph balance in your bin.
As you can see here, there is a shoot coming out of the newspaper. On closer examination, I found out it can from a potato peel. NOT from an eye, from the peel. So I would guess that the growing medium must be pretty good to get a shoot out of a thin piece of peel.
It amazes me how nature can take a little bit of skin and make a plant under the right conditions. It is the best fertilizer...it is made from scraps, and your plants can eat it right away. Plus...it is definitely organic...good for OUR Mother..Mother earth. I just love her!
This is my pretty pint of pomegranate jelly. I just love the color. But you can't beat the flavor. There is something to be said for all that hard work it takes to make enough juice to make a batch of jelly. You can't help but taste all the love.
What I am about to show you is the basic way to make jelly. Just remember to check the portions of ingredients for the TYPE of jelly you want to make. There is an insert inside each box of pectin. There will be canning instructions and recipes on the insert so not to worry. You can always get on the computer and "search" the type you want to make.
Here...I have taken a large soup pot, filled it with water, and am putting in a "glug" of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will help keep the jars from getting a film on them from the water. Set the water on the stove to boil. Add the jars you are planning to use for the jelly into the pot of water. You want to get the jars sterile by boiling for 10 minutes. Usually 8, 1/2 pints, or 4 pints will be enough jars. Now would also be the time to put a small pan with water and the canning lids on to boil. You need to heat up the soft edge so it makes a good seal.
That is when you set everything else up that you will be using. Measure out the sugar...be accurate. Too much sugar will make it not set properly. So will too little. The sugar is for preserving the jelly, the pectin is for the set or thickness of the jelly.
Here is what pectin and the insert look like when you pull them out.
Read this insert carefully. All the instructions will be fresh in your mind and you will know where to look if you have questions. Knowledge is power. You will also need some newspaper or a couple of towels to put on the counter...one beside stove for the jars while you fill them, and one for jars once they have been processed. You will need some tongs to pick things up like jars and jar lids, a funnel to help keep the jelly off the jars, some hot pot holders for handling the hot jars, a bowl and spoon for removing the scum (more of a treat than how it sounds), a ladle for filling jars, a wet wash rag for wiping jars off, and a wooden spoon and a whisk for stirring.
Add the pectin to the cool juice...it could clump if it is hot. I use a whisk to mix it.
I am using my favorite measuring spoons....a gift from my Sis-in-law....all have contributed. This recipe calls for added lemon juice..2 tablespoons. That is when you heat this to boiling.
You see, I have added a tiny bit of butter..it helps with keeping the "scum" from forming. It can be left out if you want.
Once the juice mixture is boiling hard, add the sugar. All at once or slowly, I can't see that it makes a difference. I stir it in with the whisk because it incorporates it better.
When it reaches a point where you can't stir the boil down, time it for one minute, stirring continually. When the timer goes off...turn off the heat and set pot to the side off the heat. If the pot is slightly tilted, it makes it easier to scoop it out.
It is easy to see the scum, here. It is also easy to move the scum around on the top of the jelly. Once it is over to one side, use a spoon to scoop it off in to a bowl.
The foam won't hurt anything ( and tastes good) it just doesn't look pretty. Also, if you put your stuff in the Fair for judging they don't like it.
Take the jars out of the boiling bath and turn them upside down on the newspaper. It drains the water out, while trapping the heat inside. The newspaper soaks up the water.
I am now ladling the hot jelly into the jars using the funnel. I usually do 1 step at a time...like fill the jars, wipe off the edge of jars, put on lids, adjust rings, wipe the jar off of debris, and set beside the hot pot of boiling water, until all the jelly is in the jars and rings and lids in place. Do this very quickly. It needs to be done fast so germs don't get in.
This jar is what I would call appropriately filled. There needs to be about a 1/2 inch of space between the jelly and the lid. When you heat it up in the boiling bath...it pushes the air out and when it cools, it sucks the lid down for a good seal. I just love that sound....that "ping". Makes my heart sing.
Wipe the jars rim off. You want nothing to interfere with the seal.
Set the lids on the jars...adjust for a proper fit.
Twist on rings, tightly and wipe off outside of jars completely. Set to side of boiling water bath to keep warm.
When all the jars are full and lids and rings on properly, add all at once to the boiling bath and process with a lid on for 15 minutes...I do 20 minutes because I live at a high altitude. Take the jars out of bath and set on the other newspaper to cool. Could take an hour to hear the "ping" of the seal. It is suggested to let the jars sit for 24 hours. After they seal, (you can tell by the indented lid), do NOT twist the ring on tighter. It can break the seal and ruin all your work. You can still eat it and store it in fridge...just not store on the shelf.
Hope this helps make you brave enough to try canning. It is a lot of work....not difficult. Keep things clean and hot and you will be OK.
It is now into pomegranate season and I will be making my jelly. It is something everyone likes. I think it tastes good on cheese cake. So here is the recipe.
4 cups pomegranate juice
2 Tab fresh lemon juice
1 box pectin
6 cups of sugar
8 1/2 pint jars, sterile
Put both juices in large, heavy-bottom pan. Stir in pectin. Heat to boil. Add sugar and heat to boil you can't stir down. Boil 1 minute and remove from heat. Skim off foam. Fill jars, seal, and process per directions on your pectin insert.
Here is the process....
I have started without you as you can see on the cutting board. This pomegranate is on the smaller side. I usually cut them in half. If they are bigger I cut them in quarters.
As you can see, I have a big pan of them now.
This is my grapefruit juicer for lack of a better term. I use a strainer all the way through these steps. Because not only do these fruit "bleed" all over, they spit seeds everywhere, and I don't want seeds in my jelly! Under the strainer is a 4 cup measuring cup. Just enough for a batch of jelly.
There are still lots of seeds in here, so I usually tear them in half, hold them over my china cap.....what is a china cap, you say?
This is a china cap. It is sitting in a big pot to catch the juice. Making pomegranate juice is a labor of love, 'cause it is so messy, and so hard to do. You whack the pomegranate with a wooden spoon over this and the seeds will fall inside. Then you roll the stick around inside till you pop the seeds and the juice runs out.
Now would be a stopping point. You can either put the juice in the fridge for a day or 2 or freeze it. Mine is in the fridge. Tomorrow I will can the jelly. I am tired!
Hey! Yesterday and today I have been setting up pictures so I can give you directions on how to make a compound butter, how I juice pomegranates for jelly, and how to bake a chicken breast. I forgot to put my hot pepper relish on top of the chicken for the last 10 minutes. I was distracted by making the Lad's lunch for work. I guess you can add it as a condiment on top....or bake it like I planned.
The pomegranate jelly is very tart and a wonderful accompaniment to any fish or chicken dish. It is also really good in bar-b-que sauce and a good sauce for fresh fruit on pudding or cheese cake. I like to melt it and mix it in softened vanilla ice cream, scoop it in-between two molasses cookies, re-freeze, and dip in chocolate. Most excellent taste sensations. The possibilities are endless. I want to give you "new eyes" to look at your new recipes.
This summer I went with my BFF to San Diego and she took a class. While we were there we ate at the Hilton. They served compound butters with their bread baskets. One that I particularly liked was basil butter. When I get that recipe the way I like it I will share that one too.
There are so many ways to use jams and jellies besides smearing on toast I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
As this is a work in progress and I am still learning how to use this computer...it will be a day or two before I ge
I want to make this section easy for all to use. If you have 2 to feed or 10, or any varying amount, you need to be able to adjust what you fix. To do that you need to start at the beginning...that means shopping and storing/freezing.
I usually buy Zacky Farms or Foster Farms chicken because they don't have as much "junk" in their meat. I can't afford the "free-range" stuff and I can't kill my own...I hurts my heart! (My Mom used to call me the "Bird Lady"). I also buy the chicken breasts skin-on and bone-in...it is cheaper. We can get it for less than a dollar a pound here in CA. When I want boneless/skinless I do it. Then...if I freeze it..I freeze the breasts separately in one portion servings. That way I get to adjust for how many I need to feed and how much is needed for the recipe. Plus, it is easier and faster to thaw them out if they are already separated. I take the bones, some onions, garlic, and paprika and water, boil them for a while...pick the bones for meat to make salad or feed the animals treats. Strain the broth and put in ice cube trays. Once they are frozen, pop them out of the tray and put in baggies, and mark the bags with date and contents. That way when you need a little broth to make gravy or soup, or want to thin something down, you can add some flavor instead of water.
I also save the skins off onions, stems of asparagus, celery bits, and the leftover bones of chicken or beef and freeze them. When I get a lot of them, I put them in a baking pan and bake with a couple garlic heads cut in half, and whatever else I think sounds good, for 2-3 hours in a slow oven (300-325). A smoked turkey wing or piece of smoked ham is good in there too. After I bake it, I put it in a big stock pot and cover with water. Simmer for an hour or so and strain. This can also be frozen in ice trays or storage containers. Thicken for gravy with a little corn starch and water (called a slurry). This also makes good gravy for pot pies...Yummy!
I hope this kicks your imagination into gear about how to use it up and wear it out. A little planning before makes it easy and cheaper later on. Using the ice-cubes of broth makes it easier to make gravy for 2 without opening a big box or can. Then if someone brings an unexpected guest home you can add to it easy enough.
This is my cooking section. I am hoping to put tasty, easy recipes here of canned or preserved foods that can be incorporated into other dishes that you would be proud to serve to YOUR family and friends.
I will share my years of experience canning so that you will NOT be afraid of poisoning your family. Well, maybe you will still be afraid, but not as bad....my rule of thumb is if it sounds funny, smells funny, acts funny, when in doubt...throw it out! But there won't be much of that...I assure you.
I will give you basic instructions, recipes, and fixes for little mishaps. You will have a better understanding of how canning works so you can experiment a little on your own. This is my promise to you.
This is making me crazy! I am having such a hard time posting. Guess I am just tired from yesterday. Anyway...maybe 6th time is a charm today. LOL.
While I was watering my garden yesterday, I saw a bunch of BIG, WHITE birds that looked like cranes flying around. My bird book says they are egrets. They landed in the pine trees at the park which put in mind of them being Christmas tree ornaments. What a "gift" of beauty first thing in the morning from my back yard.
Then I went to the Duck Races where I passed out my web address for this site. I took some pictures and tried to move them around on here but keep closing myself out. What is a girl to do? Quit trying to learn from someone who is cranky, is my guess.
I am a country girl who grew up in a really small town. I learned to can and sew and use things up and wear them out...Hope I can give you a few ideas.