Monday, September 9, 2013

Email Q & A

Over this summer, I received quite a few questions about the blog in my email. I was commenting to my husband a few days ago about how much I really like answering these questions because it gives me ideas on where/how I could improve the information I put in the posts. My husband suggested that if one person wrote with a question, there were probably a lot more people who had the same question and I should post them on the blog for everyone to see. What a great idea! So, here are some of the questions I received in my email this summer, along with the answers I sent back to the sender.

This first question has to do with a post I wrote in late spring about how to repair a rag rug. You can see the original post here.

 Hi Kate - I found you online by searching repairing rag rugs. I have a couple rugs my mother made and the thread has broken in one spot on each rug so the rag strips are loose. Is this easy to repair? Are there people out there who do this kind of work? I would like to get them mended since they're sentimental.  

Rag Rugs are very easy to repair. Some repairs don't require extra fabric and can be repaired with just the fabric from the rug itself. If you don't want to tackle the repair yourself, look in the yellow pages for a fabric shop or quilt shop (not a big box store). Ask the owner if they know anyone who can repair rugs. 

Depending on the repair needed, you may need to purchase new fabric. The good news is new fabric can be purchased to match the era of the original fabrics in the rugs. There are a lot of good reproduction fabric choices available at a reputable quilt shop. That way, when you fix the rug, it will end up looking like it wasn't even repaired but had been that way all along!

Best of luck getting your rug fixed! I understand how important it is to save pieces of our personal family history. I hope the repairs of your mother's rugs give you many more years of joy!


This next question was sent in response to a post I wrote on making your own insecticide. The question also refers to one of the most popular gardening posts I wrote last year. You can see them here and here.

Kate, I have been overrun with bugs in my garden this year. I want to go organic but can't seem to keep the bugs away. I told my husband about how you talk about using aluminum foil to keep the bugs away and he just laughed and said that idea was crazy. Is there any advice you can give on how to go organic when you never have before?

There are a few things you can do to keep the bugs away. However, first I want to say that I am not an organic gardener. I would classify myself as a 'chemical free' gardener. I try very hard to not use any chemicals on the plants we eat. That doesn't mean I don't use chemicals. I do use chemicals that are considered organic on things we don't eat, like flowers and houseplants. Many of my houseplants go outside for the summer. To keep them bug free when they come back in during the colder months, I spray all of them with a tobacco 'tea'. This helps ensure that I don't bring in bugs along with the plants.

But, back to the vegetable garden. Yes, the aluminum foil works! Extremely well! The best I can say is try it yourself and see. It doesn't cost a lot of money if you buy the foil on sale with a coupon. What can you expect? Virtually no bugs when the plants are small. (Well, foil doesn't work on ants, slugs or cutworms.) It does work on anything that flies. Squash vine borer, squash bugs, stink bugs, Mexican bean beetle, and Colorado potato beetle - just to name a few. The foil will work as long as the sun can reach it. The moths/flying bugs see the sun on both sides of the leaves and get confused. They move on to another plant that has more 'normal' conditions. Late in the summer, when the plants have grown over the foil, the sun can no longer reach it. Then you will see some bugs. However, not as many as if you didn't use the foil! I have been extremely happy with the results of using aluminum foil on my garden.

Let me also add that adding compost to your garden soil is another way to help eliminate bugs in the garden. (Add quite a bit - most people don't add enough.) You can also turn the soil over in mid-to-late winter (if it isn't frozen) so you kill the larvae overwintering deep down in the soil. The goal is to reduce the number of bad bugs and encourage the number of good bugs so you can keep your garden in balance. Plant more flowers to help encourage the good bugs to visit! Then the good bugs can take care of the bad bugs for you. 

Good luck with your garden!


This next question came in after I posted about using my Victorio Food Strainer to make tomato puree. You can see that post here.

Good morning - I just saw your post about making tomato sauce without electricity. I'm curious what your recipe is for canned sauce with meat. I'd like to can my spaghetti sauce but I am not entirely sure how - as in length of time and making sure I have the right ingredients.
I am reading all I can and gleaning tidbits of wisdom where I can find them.

Here is my spaghetti sauce recipe. (Oh- by the way, I have a lot of digestion problems and can't eat spicy foods - this recipe is herb oriented, not spicy at all.)

20 - 24 lbs. tomatoes - processed into sauce/puree
1 cup Italian seasoning  (I make my own from oregano, rosemary, thyme, savory, sage and basil that I grow myself.)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup onion powder (I grow/make my own onion powder)
1/4 cup garlic powder (Ditto)

Bring to a boil and then simmer until reduced by 1/3. (If you were going to freeze it, you can reduce by half. If canning, I only reduce by 1/3 and then reduce more when I open a jar to use.) If the sauce still appears too 'runny' to you when you are getting ready to serve it, add a bit of tomato powder to the sauce while it is heating.

If you want to can it without the meat - I add 2 TBS of lemon juice to each quart jar. This is necessary if water bath canning, but not necessary if pressure canning, although I add it anyway. It doesn't affect the flavor and makes it more acidic.

If pressure canning with meat, (sometimes I use turkey and sometimes I use beef,) cook the beef and drain any fat. Then add the meat to the sauce. I usually add 1 - 1 1/2 lbs of meat. If I want more, then I will add it when I open the jar. I add the meat just before I get ready to can it.

Process in the pressure canner at 11 lbs pressure (I have a dial gauge canner) for 90 minutes. This is the official number for both ground beef and turkey where I live. It is based on the elevation at my location. Your county extension service can tell you what the proper canning pressure is for you.

Although 11 lbs pressure is the 'official' number where I live, I don't can at that pressure. I can at 12 1/2 lbs. pressure and I can it for 100 minutes, not 90 minutes. I have always had a rule to over process. I do it for everything - both water bath canning and pressure canning. My food still turns out great! Never once have we been disappointed and I know the food is safe. (I also make sure I listen for the vacuum seal when I open the jar.) And remember, all pressured canned food should be cooked at a roiling boil for 10 minutes before eating (or otherwise heated above 212 degrees for 10 minutes such as in the oven as part of a recipe.)

Unfortunately, I can't tell you what to use if you have a weight gauge pressure canner because I don't have one. However, all canners come with an instruction book, so follow the instructions with your particular canner for the correct pressure and time.

I hope I have helped!


If you have a question you would like to ask, click on the About Me tab to find my email address! 

I would be happy to help!

No comments:

Post a Comment

To help eliminate spam on this blog, your comment will be moderated.