Friday, September 30, 2011

Root Cellaring- A Give Away *CLOSED*

Technically it is still September. The 30th- but still September! I did get the opportunity to read "The Joy of Keeping A Root Cellar" earlier this month, I just haven't gotten around to putting up a post for the give away until now.
First, my pros and cons on the book.
Pros: The biggest thing that I love about this book is that the author actually HAS a root cellar on her farm. This isn't someone just writing about what she has researched. Jennifer Megyesi is living it at Fat Rooster Farm in Vermont.
The book has a bunch of information on canning, freezing and drying fruits, vegetables, herbs and meats. It also has some information on smoking meats. The story that Jennifer tells about her homemade smoker is hilarious! You'll have to read the book to find out for yourself.
There are also some great looking recipes included in the book.

Cons: My only real "con" in this book is the section on smoking. I would have loved to have more information on it, including lots of recipes and how to's. The only recipe that is shared in that section is one, "For five hundred pounds of hams." No, really, that's it. Of course, I could reduce the recipe by maybe 10 times to get something accurate on what I'd actually do here at home.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I hope that you will too!

To enter the give away please do the following:

1. Leave a comment here telling me what you'd most like to learn from this book.
2. (Optional 2nd entry) Blog about this giveaway for an additional entry and leave a SEPARATE comment telling me you did.
3. (Optional 3rd entry) FB or Tweet this giveaway and leave a SEPARATE comment telling me that you did.

The give away will be open until Friday October 7th.

What better way to be prepared than to have a supply of food at your fingertips that is preserved? Join the Preparedness Challenge!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cinnamon Vanilla Pear Jam

It's fall and I'm inspired. Inspired to take some of God's goodness and put it to work in my kitchen!
Pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, hot cider on the stove, and cinnamon vanilla pear jam! I purchased 6lbs of pears from Azure this month and went on a internet scavenger hunt to find a recipe for pear jam. I found this one and loved the idea. But you know me, I have to modify and change stuff around so here's what I came up with:

4 c peeled, chopped pears
1.5 c sugar
1 vanilla bean (cut and scraped)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
(The following directions are for making this jam using Pomona Pectin. If you use a different type of pectin then just go ahead with all the ingredients in the pot and add your pectin after it's hot.)

Peel and chop your pears. Add the pears, 1c sugar, vanilla bean and scrapings, and cinnamon to large saucepan. Heat till pears become slightly soft. Mash about 1/2 of the pears into a pulp, leaving pear chunks as well.

Add 4tsp calcium water and stir well.

In a bowl, combine remaining 1/2c sugar with 3 tsp powdered pectin. Stir well.

Pour sugar/pectin combo into hot fruit. Stir at medium high heat until well dissolved (about 2 minutes.)

Ladle into half pint jars (or pint if you wish) and process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes.

(Just as a note, I did do the original 2 c of sugar in the recipe linked above for my first batch but found it to be too sweet. I lowered it to 1.5c in my second batch and was happier with the results. I believe though that you could lower it even more- to say 1c and still have it turn out great....using the Pomona Pectin that is.)

Simple. Yummy. The perfect fall gift for a friend, at a party, for a neighbor. Enjoy!

This post is linked to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Cost of Raising Hogs for Meat

I finally took a few moments to sit down with my pen and paper, receipts, and a calculator to figure out the cost of our hogs this go 'round. I try to do the math every time we butcher because there are so many variables, how much we paid for the weaner (which by the way caused quite a ruckus in the feed store the other day when I asked the owner "how much he was selling his weaners for" and someone over heard me not knowing that I was talking about pigs), how big the hogs actually get before we butcher, how long we keep them, how much food they go through, etc.

So, for this time around our first hog weighed in at 250lbs, via the weight tape, a week or so before we butchered. Her hanging weight- which was her weight with no hide, no head, no guts, and no feet came out to 157lbs. I know that may seem like a huge difference but trust me, that huge head and the hide together weighs a ton!

-We paid $125.00 for the pig (we got it later than 8wks) normally, weaners are anywhere from $80-$100 in our area

-We spent $375.00 on organic hog feed ($750.00 really, since there are two hogs but I split the cost in half for one hog)

-We spent $4.00 in straw (again, halved for the one hog)

So, $125+$375+$4= $504.00 to raise a hog

Our meat then came out to $504/157 lbs = $3.21/lb

We are sending out one ham and the bellies to be smoked this time so our total cost will look more like this: $566/157lb= $3.60/lb

We saved the cost of butchering it by doing it ourselves. The last time we had a hog butchered off our property it was $50 for the kill and then $200.00 in cut/wrap/smoke fees. If we added those onto this hog it would have been $504+$200+$50= $754...then divided by 157lbs= $4.80/lb.

We're certainly saving money by doing it on our own. We can't buy organic pork, let alone bacon, for $3.60/lb. I know the bacon goes for something like $7.00/lb and I believe the chops are around $6.00/lb.

We'll be butchering our second hog in the next few weeks and then in October we'll be getting 2 more weaners. These should be a little less expensive, around $80.00 which will certainly make our bottom line lower. We'll be getting gilts again since we really enjoyed them this time. I actually enjoyed them so much that I was a little sad to see the first one gone but their purpose is food, not as pets. I'm thankful to have a freezer full right now!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Look of Fall Around the Homestead

Hunting season is here, the huge Maple tree out front it turning colors and dropping leaves, the apple trees are almost ready to be harvested- it's fall!

Hot cider, warm apple pie, raking leaves, tree work and hog butchering. (Well, maybe the last two aren't a thought of fall for most!)

This past Saturday we butchered one of our hogs. I'm still working up the money vs. pound-age and final costs. I'll let you know how that turns out.

The kids watching Gavin gut the hog.

We're thankful for fall and all it brings.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Canning Tuna - A How To

When you live near the coast, you can tuna. You head down to the docks, or talk to one of your fisherman friends (because there are a lot of fishermen here) and you buy a bunch of whole fish. Say, 100-200lbs of it. Then you fillet it. Then you can it.

Pretty simple.

You know where your food comes from (just miles off the coast) and you know how it was processed (at home.) It makes for much happier tuna consumption than the little cans of Bumblebee from the store. Plus, it would take about 5 of those cans to feed my family for lunch. Opening one can is just much easier than opening five. See? I am a tad bit lazy.

So here we go.......

Take your fillet of fish and remove the skin.

Make sure to first cut out all that really dark meat (the blackish, reddish, purplish stuff- it's really fishy.)
Now, if you're a professional fish cutter-upper than you have this down pat. If you're me though, you have some fillets that turn out beautifully...

and then others that just looked hacked to death. But it's o.k., "hacked to death" doesn't matter when you're just cramming the fish into the jar anyway.

Cut your tuna into 2" chunks and pack firmly into clean jars.

Add about 1/4-1/2tsp salt, wipe your rim down, place your lid on, screw on the band and load the jar into the pressure canner.

Your pressure canner should have a couple of inches of water in it, say 2".

Once your canner is full of jars, place the lid on and turn your burner on high. Once the air/steam starts to come out of the top little exhaust hole, turn on your timer for 10 minutes. Once you have allowed all the air to escape, place your bobber thingy (don't you love all my crafty, scientific names for things?) on the exhaust and bring your canner up to pressure. Can at 11lbs of pressure for 100 minutes for pint jars. When 100 minutes is up, simply turn your burner off and allow the canner to reduce it's pressure on it's own. DO NOT remove the bobber thingy until all pressure is gone!

The whole process of canning, once your jars are in the canner, takes about 2 hours with all the heating up and cooling down. I try to can as much as possible at one time so that I'm not at the stove all day long.

Really, canning tuna is easy and fun! Have you ever had home canned tuna? Questions? Comments? :)

This post is linked to the Barn Hop!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Here we go homeschool!

Well, I did it. I lept in head over heels with high school homeschool. So far, it's been good. Of course, we are only just over half way through week 2. Hopefully I'll be able to say the same thing on week 32.
Curriculum was totally new to me this year. My 4, 3 and 1 year old don't' require any obviously. But this is high school. This stuff counts. (In a "you have to complete this or don't get your diploma kind of way.") It all really counts no matter what you're doing. Even the non-school time counts. Is there really non-school time anyway? Life is school. My children are learning every day. They're gaining knowledge from books and experiences but they're also learning habits, character, morals, ways of thinking and more from the environment around them each and every day.
Wyatt is using Rosetta Stone this year for Spanish. They call their way of teaching "immersion." You are immersed in the language so thoroughly that you can't help but learn it. Life is the same. What you are immersed in, you learn. I'm thankful to have all of my children home with me so that I can, in the best way I know how, teach them God's word, kindness to others, respect, honesty, and hard work along with all the book knowledge.
So here's what we're using this year:
Math: Saxon Algebra. Math isn't my strongest subject (right, Dad?) so Saxon is perfect for me and for Wyatt. It repeats/reviews problems from lesson to lesson to make sure you're actually getting it. Plus, there is a companion CD set that has the availability to take you step by step through each problem (yes, really, each problem in the book) in case you're just not getting it.
English: Rod and Staff English, "The Fallacy Detective", "Eats Shoots and Leaves", and tons of readers (ones like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Pilgrims Progress, The Mark Twain Reader, Death of a Salesman and Gulliver's Travels)
Spanish: Rosetta Stone, as mentioned above.
Bible: Rod and Staff 9th grade Bible, Morning and Evening, Matthew Henry's Complete Bible Commentary
Music Study: Beethoven and other composers. I know that these books are somewhat juvenile for Wyatt in the reading level but all of it is totally new to him (he's never studied any kind of music- let alone classical) and it works well as an elective.
Health: Yeah, I know. Who knew? Apparently California has a new requirement for graduation that requires 1 year of Health starting with students who graduate in 2014 or after. That would be us. I didn't find that out until about a week ago. I ordered this health book by Susan Boe. I like that it's sciency (is that a word?) yet upholds Biblical values.

I did buy the 9th grade Reader from Rod and Staff also.

When things get tough or I feel overwhelmed, I remember that instead of saying, "I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!" all I have to say is "I know He can!"
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