Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Do You Watch Too Much TV? Turn It Off And Read A Book!

I am trying to talk my husband into cutting off the cable. Over 300 channels and we watch a total of 5 or 6 of them! Besides, hearing about all the mayhem in the world on a daily basis is depressing! We can catch up with the news on a weekly basis on the computer. If a crisis happens, it will be all over the Internet anyway!

He still hasn't agreed, but I am working on it. The TV is our biggest consumer of electricity! While I have (and use) air conditioning during the hot summer months, we don't set it to a low temperature, nor do we run it for very many weeks. Instead we let the passive design of our house do the work and stay on the main floor as much as possible. This strategy keeps the electricity use low.

Anyway, back to the TV. I can tell you for a fact that you don't need it! Try turning it off for a day or two! The world will not end without you knowing it. I promise! It amazes me how much can accomplish in the evening hours when the TV isn't on. If you get tired in the evening and don't have the energy to do any more of the daily chores, then try reading a book!  You can learn anything you want from a book. You can also be entertained! As we all know, when Hollywood makes a movie from a book, you always hear someone say that the book was better!

Do you like history? There are many excellent authors that write compelling stories on key leaders that shaped America. David McCullough is one of my favorites. In our house, we have his books on John Adams, Harry Truman and the wonderful book he wrote on the Revolutionary War called 1776.

I also like the historical novels from author Gloria Waldron-Hukle. She has done extensive work on her family history and has written three wonderful books about her ancestors. Her first book: Manhattan, Seeds of the Big Apple was about her relatives who were some of the first citizens of New Amsterdam! (New Amsterdam was what the Dutch called New York when they arrived in the new world.) Each of her books focuses on a different period in American History, and the characters are real people that lived during those times! They are extremely well written and fun to read.

If you wish to be entertained with pure fiction, let me suggest an author I was introduced to this past summer. Dorothy Gilman

Ms. Gilman died in 2012 of Alzheimer's disease, but she left a legacy of fun in the books she wrote! My favorites are the Mrs. Pollifax series. The first book sets the stage for the rest in the series. The Unexpected Mrs. PollifaxMrs. Pollifax is a widowed grandmother. She doesn't like her life anymore, she thinks it's too boring. She decides to become a spy! Ms. Gilman wrote 14 books in the Mrs. Pollifax series. This summer, I read all of them! If you like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, you will LOVE Mrs. Pollifax.

Mrs. Pollifax doesn't know how to be a spy. But, from her years of experience in living, she does know human nature very well! She puts that knowledge to work in the missions she is given. Many times I have laughed so hard at her antics that I ended up with tears in my eyes! 

Books don't have to cost a lot of money. If you have a Kindle, purchase the digital version. They are also very reasonable. If you have no extra money to spare, borrow one from your local library for FREE. Visit your local library and stroll the shelves. I am sure you will find something that interests you!

Try turning off the TV and reading a book for one night. Do it together as a family. A few days later at the dinner table each person can talk about the book they are reading. I am sure you will enjoy yourself much more than you do watching TV! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

My New Vortex Hand Crank Blender

I got a new Vortex Blender for my birthday this year. I will admit I was very excited to get it. That is, until I used it.

I read all the reviews I could find on this product so I thought I had a good understanding of what to expect. Some of the reviews said the blender leaked from its base, around the blades.There is an O ring in the base to prevent leaks. I didn't know before I saw the blender, but I now know it is a design flaw.  The O ring isn't sized correctly. I really don't understand why the makers of the blender don't fix it, but that is a subject for another day.

So having known that this thing has problems leaking, you may be thinking "Why did you buy it?" Well, there were a lot of reviews that said it didn't leak. There will always be a few defective products made (it is the nature of the production process), even with a good design. I thought that is what some of these people experienced.

In my line of business, I am constantly forced to adapt to unworkable situations with what are called 'workarounds'. A workaround is a procedure or process you can use to bypass the defect in the tool or 'system'. Sometimes you must get really creative to get a workaround to be successful in a business process! I put my business experience to work on my blender design flaw and I found a workaround that, for the present moment, appears to be working. 

Let me show you my new blender. Here are all the pieces, right out of the box and bags.

It was easy to set up.  It doesn't take more than a minute to set up or break down.

I wanted this blender to make smoothies. (Shaking the mixture in a closed container doesn't cut it when you are trying to make a fruit smoothie.) I do have other plans for its use, but this is the primary one. 

Put everything in the blender...

And turn the crank.

There are two speeds, slow and 'fast'. The fast speed isn't really fast but it is faster than the slow speed. I would call it about even with the 'mix'  or 'blend' setting on an electric blender. ('Puree' speed isn't available here!)

Pour into a cup and enjoy!

 I didn't realize the base was leaking until I went to pour the smoothie into a cup. A few drops of the smoothie dripped on the counter. It wasn't a bad leak, it was just a few drops. I washed out the blender and turned it upside down to dry. More drips appeared from the base plate. I tried to get in between the blender and the base plate with a paper towel to dry it off, but it didn't work. The paper towel soaked up the water, but it still continued to seep out from the base plate. Again, not a lot but enough to be an annoyance. 

While I was trying to decide if I should send the blender back, I came up with the workaround. Let me explain what I think caused it to leak in the first place. I made the smoothie with kefir milk. I poured the milk into the blender and went to get the strawberries that I picked from the garden. That is when Molly came in to see me and tell me she needed attention. (She currently has an infected ear and is on antibiotics.) It was time for her dinner and medication and she was tired of waiting! So, I turned my attention to her. I left the milk in the blender and put the blender in the refrigerator. When I was finished with Molly, I went back to the blender and made the smoothie. The milk sat in the blender for about 20 minutes total. Plenty of time for it to slip under the O ring and leak out of the bottom.

So the first process change I made was to not let the liquid sit in the blender for too long. (An idiotic notion for a $100 blender, I admit!) The next change I made was to add all the powder ingredients (if there are any in the smoothie) first. Since I usually add a teaspoon or two of stevia to the smoothie mix anyway, I now do it first. Then the fruit, then add the milk last. Quickly turn the crank and get it blended. Immediately pour into cups. My smoothie recipe makes enough for two. If my husband happens to be traveling for work the next time I use the blender, I am going to need to put the extra smoothie into a different container and store in the refrigerator.

I have made smoothies a few times now and the workaround appears to be a successful fix. The question I must ask myself now: "Is the workaround worth it for a blender that my husband paid almost $100 for, or should I send it back?"

I haven't decided what to do yet. I won't use it anymore unless I decide to keep it. The problem is, I can't buy an alternative. There isn't another manufacturer for this product, and an alternative brand isn't available. I fully understand that a hand crank blender isn't a product in high demand by the general public. 

At this moment in time, what I can say is that unless you are a hard core, off-the-grid homesteader, I recommend you skip this product and stick with your electric blender.

December 2013 Update: I have decided to keep my blender. The workaround has been quite successful and I have not experienced any additional leaking from the bottom. Still, it is a real pain in the butt to have to do this for a $100 blender. Therefore, I CANNOT recommend this product for purchase. Maybe someday, someone will make a hand crank blender that really works!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An Emergency Space Heater and Other Emergency Preparedness Information

I frequently read the blog The Parsimonious Princess. Recently, Heather listed some links to emergency preparedness information including instructions on how to make an emergency space heater! This is so cool! It is inexpensive to make and can serve as both heat and light (if needed) in an emergency.

It does use an open flame so you really need to use common sense with it and keep the area clear of anything that could catch fire. I liked the idea of an emergency space heater, so I thought I would post the link.

Canned Heat: How to Make an Emergency Heater

Heather also posted some additional links to emergency preparedness information that I thought was quite helpful. You can see that post here.

I also have a friend who's daughter is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for her ward (church congregation) and she has started an emergency preparedness blog! It is full of great information! She talks about cooking with food storage, canning, getting out of debt, how to plan for an emergency evacuation of your home, emergency car care kits and much more!

Prepare Every Needful Thing

Winter is coming and if you don't have emergency car care kits in case you get stuck in the snow or a home plan of what to do when the electricity goes out, now it is the time to make them!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Top Five Food Processing Tools for The Non-Electric Kitchen

As part of the series, 10 Things You Need to Know How To Do Before You Lose Electricity, I gave the top five non-electric kitchen tools I use on a daily or almost daily basis. You can see that post here. These kitchen tools are critical to be able to function in a kitchen when there isn't any electricity, but they are not the only tools you will need to put food on the table. So, in this post I will show you the top five non-electric food processing tools I use. If, like me, you don't purchase many processed foods, these non-electric appliances are key for you to be able to feed your family when there isn't any electricity.

While using non-electric appliances is extremely important to the way I live, not buying processed foods is also important to me. When you process your own foods, you cut costs, preservatives, and any extra ingredients you may not like or want in your foods! It is healthier, cheaper and doesn't use electricity: a win - win - win in my book! So, here is my list of the top five food processing tools needed for a non-electric kitchen!

#5: Atlas Manual Pasta Extruder Regina

As part of my food storage program, I store whole wheat berries. As long as I have whole wheat stored, I have the ability to turn it into whatever I want: breads, pasta or pies! One of the things I do most with whole wheat berries is to turn it into pasta. To do that, I have the Atlas Manual Pasta Extruder Regina (Santa gave it to me). It is super easy to use and super easy to clean!

This machine makes five different kinds of macaroni:  rigatoni, maccheroni, maccheroncini, bucatini and fusilli.  My favorite is maccheroni pasta because it looks like standard elbow macaroni with ridges. That is what I am making in the picture below.

You can see more about how this tools works in this post, here. Contrary to some reviews I have read online, I don't have any problems turning the hand crank. The key to easy use is the correct water to flour ratio.

#4: Victorio Food Strainer

This tools is critical for making tomato sauce or applesauce quickly and easily! Before I bought one, I used to cut the tomatoes in half, heat them to boiling and then run them through a food mill. Using a food mill was a time consuming process! With the Victorio Food Strainer, it is possible for me to make a gallon of tomato sauce in five minutes! You can see another post on how to do that here.

This tool isn't just good for tomatoes and apples, you can get an accessory kit that works on berries, pumpkins, salsa, grapes, and other fruits with large seeds! I would not be able to can half as much spaghetti sauce as I do if I didn't have this tool!

#3: Victorio Apple Peeler

While I only use this tool continuously on a seasonal basis, I would not be able to process nearly as many apples every year without it! Not only does it core, peel and slice an apple in about 10 seconds, it will peel potatoes just as fast! (To use it for potatoes, you must remove the corer/slicer blade). Before I bought this, I was limited to canning one or two bushels of apples during the fall season. Now, I can do many more. In addition, peeling and coring apples by hand was hard on my arthritic fingers. They would ache for days after I finished canning. Not so anymore! I will never be without this tool again!

It comes with two different base designs, a clamp or a suction base. The one I have has a suction base. I like it because you can put it anywhere, no need to be anchored to the end of a table or counter.

#2: Yogotherm Yogurt Maker

I use this at least a few times each month. Not only does it make yogurt, it also makes cream cheese, sour cream, buttermilk and anything else requiring a culture. However, I must tell you that it really isn't a necessary tool if you have a warm spot in your kitchen you can place the cultured food while the bacteria are working. A word of caution though, it must be a consistently warm spot, able to stay at the correct temperature the culture needs to perform its work. (Yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk and cream cheese all require different temperatures.) I don't have a consistently warm spot that will stay at the correct temperature, so I bought a Yogotherm yogurt maker. It is so easy and convenient! It stays at the correct temperature no matter where I put it in the house!. It is very inexpensive to purchase!. It has an inner container, styrofoam lining and the outer container. That's it. You can see how it works in a post on making yogurt, here.

I make my own dairy products using a Yogotherm so I don't have to eat any artificial ingredients or  preservatives. It doesn't take a lot of effort or time to make your own when you use a Yogotherm! And, everything tastes much better!

#1 Wondermill  Wonder Junior, Deluxe Grain Mill

Without this grain mill, I would end up eating all my wheat berries as a gruel. While they taste OK as a gruel, I have no desire to eat it every day at every meal! (Besides, if you ever had to eat it that way every day, food fatigue would set in very quickly.)  You could grind your wheat like the Indians did, smashing it between two rocks. However, that isn't a very efficient use of your time and effort. This mill is a bit pricey. I had to save up to get mine. There are cheaper hand mills out there, but they don't last. I have owned a few of the cheaper ones - they all ended up breaking! I have owned the Wonder Junior for about four years now and I have not had any problems with it! It works every time I need it to!

What I like best about this mill is it can grind wet foods as well as dry. Things like peanuts (or other oily seeds), flax, coffee, and cloves! I even read an article where someone used it to grind his own cocoa powder from cocoa beans! It is fast and easy to use. You can set it from a very coarse grind (needed for cracked oat groats) to very, very fine (needed for pastry flour).

In addition to using it for wheat, barley, oats, durum wheat, and peanuts, I also have used it to grind dehydrated chili peppers for insecticide! (For a little powder, I use a mortar and pestle; for a lot of powder, I use the Wondermill Junior.)

The Wondermill Junior is the most important food processing tool I have in my kitchen! With the ability to grind your own flour, a world of different foods opens up to you! You can turn those berries into many different speciality flours to make anything you can think of! You can see how to make some common speciality flours in this post, here. The best benefit is, making your own speciality flours is much cheaper then buying it from the store!

As I have said before, when the power goes out, it is my goal to not even notice! I don't plan to miss a beat in my kitchen, with or without electricity!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

No Vacuum? No Problem!

6 Month Update

As many of you may know, my vacuum died about 6 months ago. I decided to go without one for one year to try to understand just how my great-great-grandmothers managed to keep their houses clean.

I am pleased to say that I have not felt deprived. I really don't miss the vacuum. At times it does get exasperating. There are times I do think, "It would be so easy to just run the vacuum over this and be done with it." Fortunately, those times are rare! 

Beating the rugs does take extra time I could be doing something else. However, I like beating my rugs. They get super clean that way! I believe I get more of Molly's hair off the rugs when I beat them, as compared to using the vacuum. Now to be honest, my 6 months of no vacuuming have been during the warm, summer months. I may feel differently beating the rugs outside in the winter. I will let you know when the time comes!

I really think the reason I don't miss the vacuum has been my Hoky PR3000. Daily, I am amazed at how well it works - on both the carpet and the floors! It even works on my rag rugs!

Although I really love the Hoky, I will admit I give my broom and dust mop a workout as well. And let me also say that it is possible to use a broom on carpet! I do it all the time and it works! At the end of my year without a vacuum, I may find that I really am not keeping the wall-to-wall carpet clean at all. Thankfully, Molly doesn't spend a lot of time in the rooms with carpet so we are managing quite well for now. I haven't seen an increase in her allergies since the vacuum broke. That is my main concern. Plus, the carpets and rugs look and feel clean (to my feet). No one who comes over to my house can tell that I don't have a vacuum! (Well, my neighbors can because they see me outside beating the rugs.)

I will say that the key to not having a vacuum is daily sweeping. When I was canning all the apples, I didn't always sweep daily. It does matter! It takes significantly longer to clean the floors if you don't do it daily!

So for now, my experiment will continue! I will post more updates at the 9 month mark!

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Monday, October 14, 2013

I Need a New Winter Coat

I really do! I was going to get one last year, but never did. It is a good thing that last winter was so mild, no coat was needed. The coat I need is not an everyday coat, I need one for church and wearing with other 'dressy' clothes. The one I had fell apart, it was about 20 years old.  (I do have a 'jeans' coat that I got at Walmart about 15 years ago, it is still going strong. However, it is not appropriate to wear to church.)

If you have been a long time reader, you will know that I set goals for myself every year. One of this year's goals was to make some new clothes. I can't remember when I last bought any, maybe seven or eight years ago. Well, that didn't happen. My year was super busy with extra work I didn't plan on, and then, being sick for six weeks unable to do many projects. So here it is, nearing the end of October and I still don't have a coat. It is important that I get one this year, all the weather reports say we are going to have a wet, cold winter. (Well, wet and cold for the south. People who live in Buffalo, NY would laugh at our winters here.)

The problem is, I don't want to spend a lot of money. I have no idea how much coats cost, but I am sure it is too much. I also want a really nice one. Someone at church recommended that I go to Goodwill or a consignment shop. If I look around, I could find a really nice used one. Another problem I have is I hate shopping. I mean really hate it! I don't even like going to the grocery store. The thought of spending hours going from store to store does not thrill me. 

So what am I going to do? I am determined to make the coat myself. This solution really suits me because my idea of fashion is about 100 years out of date. I don't have to search and search to find something that is available now. I can get exactly what I want. I chose a pattern of the Model T Duster coat. This pattern is made by Folkwear.

The Model T Duster coat was worn at the turn of the century when the horseless carriage was first invented. All they had back then were dirt roads and they got very dusty! So did anyone traveling on them! This coat was designed to protect their clothes from the dust. Both men and women wore Model T Dusters. I am sure my great-grandmother had one!

Typically this coat was not lined. They were not designed to be elegant. I am going to modify the pattern and add a lining. I want mine to look elegant! I am going to need to make it fairly quickly because winter is coming. (A coat will be needed by mid-December here.) So I had to find fabric that I liked.

We have JoAnn Fabric stores here and I get their coupons in the mail. I got a coupon for 50% off of a regularly priced item and timed it to go during a sale. (For those that don't know, JoAnn Fabrics always runs sales. I think the idea of a permanent 'sale' is in their business model.) Anyway, I went to see if they had any wool that would be suitable for a coat. I found a gorgeous light weight wool in gray with a light gray fabric for a lining!

Now, comes the hard part. I have to make it. Hopefully, it will turn out as elegant as I envision it! 

I will post updates as soon as I have something to show!

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Garden Update

I finished planting all the cool season crops, but it wasn't without drama! The drama came when I tried to finish up the new raised bed. I had to remove the rest of the grass from the raised bed area before I added the compost. I have Bermuda grass and it will grow up through the soil to reach the top of the raised beds if it isn't removed. Here is what I started with in the morning.

Thinking it would not take long to pull up, I thought I would add the dirt & compost, plant the seeds and be finished by noon. Well, that didn't happen! When I tried to pull up the rest of the grass, I found lots of rocks that needed to be removed. Then I hit upon a big rock. I mean a really big rock. It took a while to uncover it, the more I dug, the bigger it got. It got so big that I had to remove the wooden frame from the raised bed to be able to pry it out. Here it is!

This thing is solid granite (I live in the gold belt in my state.) It was so heavy I couldn't pick it up! My husband wasn't home so I didn't have any help. To remove this thing, I had to think outside the box. My thoughts turned to the ancient Egyptians and how they had to move those enormous boulders to build the pyramids. So I created a 'ramp' by removing additional dirt from the raised bed. I made it a very slow grade, I had to dig out a lot of the dirt. My goal was to roll it up the 'ramp' I just created and out of the way of the new garden. Well, I couldn't push it up the ramp! At least not with my hands - so I sat down and pushed it out with my feet! Our legs can handle more weight than our arms can, so it seemed like a perfect solution. It started to work and then it got stuck. Instead of moving the rock when I pushed, I ended up pushing me across the grass. I had to dig my hands into the ground and push harder!

Molly thought all of this was super fun and that, of course, Mommy was sitting on the ground to play with her. From the time I discovered my problem, to the time I got the thing out, it took almost two hours! This rock has to weigh almost 100 pounds!

With the crisis over, it was time to put the raised bed frame back and get the compost. It was now afternoon and Molly needed a nap. 

I added the few bags of commercial potting soil that I had left over from Spring and the compost. I planted half the bed with onions and the other half with garlic.

In another raised bed, I planted peas and carrots. In the third raised bed, I planted more carrots, peas, broccoli and spinach. It took me all day to get everything done. The rock is still sitting in the middle of my yard. It needs a new home. I have no idea where I am going to put it or what I am going to do with it. I really don't think the garbage collection people will take it.

My husband told me I should have just left it in the ground. As a long time gardener, I couldn't do that. I know that the roots of the plants will have better soil conditions without that rock. The key to a good, healthy garden really is soil preparation. So while I now have excellent garden soil, I also have a 100 lb rock. 

Perhaps I should paint it and make yard art!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Taking Care of Your Tools

In today's throwaway society, taking care of the tools you own seems quaint and old-fashioned. However, I believe it is important to do to live frugally. This isn't just about taking care of garden or other outdoor tools, although those are probably what come to mind first. I believe we should take care of all our tools, and that is what I will be showing today!

I have a few old pans from the 50's and a flour sifter from the 20's or 30's (hard to tell exactly when it was made). These tools tend to rust if just washed & dried and then put away.  Even more so if my husband puts them in the dishwasher. In the picture below you can see some rust on the pan in the middle. But believe me, all of them have rust on them! What do you do? Oil them!

The first step is to scrub well and remove the rust. I use a steel wool soap pad. (Actually, I use a piece of one - I always cut mine up into thirds or fourths. Any bigger isn't needed and just wastes money.) Then rinse and dry well. I usually let them air dry for a bit after I wipe them with a dish towel to make sure they are completely dry.

Then pour a little oil in the pan. I use olive oil. You don't need much.

Take a paper towel and wipe the oil over the entire surface. Inside and outside. Don't forget under the rim! That is where I find most of the rust.

After you wipe the oil over the pan (or what ever tool you are coating), let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, come back and wipe it again with a dry paper towel. This is the same principle used in cleaning guns, wipe it on and then wipe it off. You will leave a thin coating of oil on the pan, but not enough to make it feel overly greasy. (It may feel a bit greasy but that feeling will go away once it completely dries.) You can put the pans away now. Here are mine all set to go back into the kitchen cabinets.

If you wash them by hand, the coating will last for several washings. Mine only go into the dishwasher if I leave them in the sink waiting to be washed for a day (or two) because I am busy doing other things. My husband doesn't like dishes left in the sink and he will put them in the dishwasher. In those instances, they will need another scrubbing and coating of oil before they are put away.

Over time, you will find the more you coat them, the less often you will have to do it! These pans get a lot of use at my house, but now, I only need to coat them two or three times a year.

Daily frugal habits like this one will save you money! While it is only a few pennies every day, it really does add up at the end of the year! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Time to Update Your Emergency Preparedness Kits!

Do you have an Emergency Car Kit in your car? It can come in handy if you should get stranded because of an accident, flat tire, ice storm or snow. How about a 72 hour kit in case you ever needed to evacuate your home because of a fire, nuclear plant accident, or a chemical spill?

If you don't have any idea of what I am talking about, you can read about why you should have an Emergency Car Kit and how to make one here. This post gives all kinds of ideas on what you can put in your kit. You can read about why I have a 72 hour kit and what I put in mine here

The kits are easy to make and they don't have to cost a lot of money. You can use a lot of stuff you already have around the house. The idea is to make them up and then just leave them until you need them. The car kits are stored in the car and the 72 hour kits are stored in a closet in your home. No need to think about them again until you need them!

Well, almost. You do need to think about them twice a year. That's how often you will need to exchange food items and check on other items that may be out of date. This past weekend I updated my kits.

For all Latter-Day Saints, this past Saturday and Sunday was General Conference weekend. We heard the counsel of our Church leaders during four specific sessions - two on Saturday and two on Sunday. This bi-annual event is one of my favorite times of the year! Because it is easy to remember, it is also the time I update my Emergency Preparedness Kits. 

You can use any bi-annual event to signal the time to change your kits. Daylight Savings Time is a good example, Fall/Spring Equinox is another. Use whatever makes sense for your family! Spring and Fall triggers work best because they get you ready for the extreme seasons of Summer and/or Winter. Christmas/July 4th might also work for someone who lives in a mild climate.

Go through all your kits and remove any food that is going to expire before your next update. Replace it with food that has a 'Best By' date that is beyond the date of your next scheduled kit update. It is a good idea to also check:
  • Are the bottles of water in good condition? Do any show signs of a possible leak? Are the bottles out of date?
  • If you store medicines in your kit, are they still fresh? Will they remain that way until you check the kit again?
  • Are the clothes in your kit appropriate for the upcoming weather?
  • Is anything in the First Aid kit out of date?
  • Do the flashlight batteries need to be replaced?
  • Do the pens in the kit still write? 
  • Is the package of wet wipes still fresh?
  • Is there anything else in the kit that should be replace?
Think about your kits twice each year and you will be able to depend on them if and when you ever need them!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cooking with Apples: Great-Great-Grandmother Style

I am almost finished processing apples for the year.  I should end up with about 50 pints of applesauce, 25 pints of apple pie filling and a few gallons of apple juice. In the meantime, I am looking at what is left of the remaining bushel and thinking what would my great-great-grandmother do with all these apples? She would make apple tansy!

While it is called a 'pudding', it isn't a sweet dish. It does have a bit of sugar in it, but it is very easy to substitute stevia or splenda. Also, if you use sweet apples, you can omit the sugar. In addition, this recipe calls for rose water. Rose water was used a lot in recipes before vanilla flavoring became known to people living in America. (Vanilla was brought back to America by Thomas Jefferson upon his return from France in 1789.)  Rose water is still very popular in Middle Eastern cooking today and you can find it in ethnic food stores. You may also be able to find it at a place like Whole Foods or a more upscale grocery store (in the ethnic foods section).

One more note about this recipe. It cooks sort of 'omelet like' and you will need to flip it. If you don't use a deep, flat sided skillet, it should flip relatively easy. 

This recipe came from the book The Martha Washington Cookbook.  This is a collection of recipes from her family cookbook. The recipe for apple tansy is on page 172. Some of the recipes in this book go back to 1706! Most foods back then were highly seasoned; meats were cooked in wine, nutmeg and ginger were commonly used, and rose water was used in almost all puddings, cakes and creams.

With that introduction, here is the recipe.

Apple Tansy
Whites of 6 eggs
Yolks of 3 eggs  (I used three whole eggs and then used meringue powder & water for the other 3 egg whites)
2 TBS rose water (I never made it to the grocery store to buy this, so I used a tsp of vanilla instead.)
Juice of 1/2 lemon ( My bottle of lemon juice says the juice of 1/2 lemon is equal to 1 1/2 tablespoons so that is what I used.)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 TBS sugar
6 apples
2 TBS butter (You can omit this and use Pam if you would like.)

I started with the three eggs and the meringue powder & water. Beat it well. I used a whisk.

Add the sugar, nutmeg, lemon juice and rose water or vanilla. Mix well.

Peel and chop four apples. The recipe said to chop the apples very fine. I used my Victorio Apple Peeler. It took about 1 minute to peel, core, slice and chop all four apples. (I do so love this tool! If you would like to own one, you can use my link on the left side of the blog to purchase it from Amazon.)

Add the apples to the egg mixture and set aside. Now, core the other two apples and slice thinly. Put 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet and add the apples. Fry them till they are brown. I sliced one apple in half first and the other one I left whole.

Mine didn't turn golden brown but did turn translucent so I took them out of the pan. Set aside when done. 

The recipe said to keep them hot. I didn't want to turn on the oven, or setup the Sun Oven to keep them hot so I left them on the stove until I needed them. Then, to reheat, I put them in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Add the other tablespoon of butter to the skillet and add the apple mixture. Put the skillet on low heat and let it cook. Mine took 15 minutes.

Check the sides to be sure it is done. It should be cooked throughout. Now you can flip it. (This is just to brown the other side.) To flip, slide it out of the skillet on to a plate. Then, put another plate over it and flip it. Slide it off the plate and back into the pan. 

Next time I will do it a bit slower to keep the edges looking nice. When it is brown on the bottom, move it to a plate and add the fried apples to the top. At this point I decided that the half apples made a better presentation and so I cut them all in half. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve. 

It has a unique flavor. The nutmeg really stands out! I liked it. My husband said it was so-so.  I think it would make a nice breakfast dish. Definitely a change from boring breakfast cereal, toast or even french toast! 

On the web, I found another version of apple tansy that uses less eggs and a bit of cream. You can see that one here . I also found additional web sites that have other 18th and 19th century (and early 20th century) apple recipes:

Apple Salad
Dried Apple Cake
Apple Dumplings
Apple Cream

If you wish to try additional recipes our ancestors served their families, I highly recommend The Martha Washington Cookbook!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Garden Update

The new raised bed is coming along. I haven't finished, but plan to do so tomorrow. It is in the side yard, sort of in the way, but it will get good winter sun. I have saved enough homemade compost and commercial potting soil from the spring to fill it.

I took this picture last night at about 6:30. You can see how the blueberries, some of the strawberries and one of the other raised beds are in the shade, but the new raised bed is still in the sun. This extra sunlight will help the garlic and onions to grow big! The raised bed next to the strawberries (covered with netting over pvc pipe to keep the birds away) will be planted with peas on Saturday. You can see some of the parsley plants at the end of it.

I managed to harvest hundreds of carrot seeds! Here is a picture of a few.

I will plant these this week. I am very excited to see what I get! I hope they taste good! I will save half of these seeds for spring planting.

My green bean count is up to 45 quart jars! I believe one last harvest next week should get me to my goal of 52! I do need to water the plants this week because we haven't had enough rain to support them for one last push. I have a drip hose in the bed so I won't waste water. I will hook it up to the rain barrels and let them drain out. Then I can put the rain barrels away for the winter and re-hook up my downspout.

I also managed to harvest quite a few more squash. I pulled the plants on Monday. I didn't get the 30 additional squash I was hoping for but I did get 18. While I needed 120 to last until next year, my total count  for the summer came to 53. I won't be buying the rest at the store, we will just do without.

I am slowly removing the tomato plants. I have pulled half ripe and green ones, as well as ripe ones. The half ripe and green ones are on my dinning room table until they ripen. (FYI - to get tomatoes to ripen faster, place an apple or two in between them. The apple will give off gases that will make the tomatoes ripen faster!)

As I thought, the peanut crop was poor. I didn't even get 20% of what I expected. I am very glad that last year I saved enough seeds to cover this crop failure! I do not have to purchase new ones! While I don't have enough peanuts to make cooking oil this year, I do have enough to roast and cover with chocolate for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I may go to Whole Foods and buy some raw peanuts to make the cooking oil I need for the year. Here is a picture of some of the peanuts drying on my kitchen table.

Next week, when the fall garden is in, it will be time to harvest the rest of the herbs!