My lip gloss is poppin’!

Well, not its not poppin’, but it is pretty cool. And handmade because I’m resourceful like that. When I started running out of the Burt’s Bee’s chapstick I had stockpiled a few months ago, I broke into the kind I made myself from this recipe. Of course I didn’t think to use sugar scrub to ease my lips into transition from one chapstick to the next so I figured an ultra-nutritive gloss would help.

Back when I made my own hand lotion, body butter and lotion bars, I got some sweet almond oil and jojoba oil for when I wanted to make some other stuffs (that I never got around to). Turned out to be pretty handy in a pinch! All I needed was the Vitamin E which I got on sale at the local grocery. Now because I got the capsules on sale doesn’t mean you need to. If you’re going to be making a lot of this stuff, I would strongly recommend you splurge the $11 and get the bottle of Vitamin E oil. Its super for your lips and I’ve heard some ladies use it around their eyes to reduce lines (certainly not this chick, I love my laugh lines).

So, with all of my ingredients together, all you need is a tube with a roller ball or a cleaned lipgloss tube with the felt applicator. I don’t ever use those things, but if you’ve got one, that’s easier than buying the tube I did. Mine is a pretty blue though, and that’s cool.

Measure 10 drops each of jojoba oil and sweet almond oil into your tube. Pierce the capsules until you get 10 drops vitamin E oil (each capsule gave me about two drops but you’ll likely get some on your fingers). I topped that off with three drops of YL peppermint oil just to make it like my chapstick. I love that fresh minty tingle! Shake gently or swirl the tube before each use and you have a lovely lip gloss!

All come to total, this project cost $69.03 minus tax and H&S. Where I saved money and can defend this as sustainable on our budget is that the oils were an investment. The roller balls I don’t see myself using too frequently besides this and maybe a diffuser perfume blend, but the others will certainly see repeated use. So, if you go by unit for this little project if you consider the ingredients “investments”, the cost is really $2.53. Can you see where I’m coming from on this? I know the ingredients are pure, I know exactly what is going on my face, and I can make it myself so I stay out of trouble.

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Canning Chicken Meat

In keeping with our theme of self-reliance, the preservation of meat by canning is a valuable skill. Plenty of times you will want to freeze or dry your meat and there is nothing wrong with that under normal circumstances. In the prepper world, there are plenty of arguments against freezers and we learned one of them the hard way when our freezer broke down. Without realizing it, the garage where we kept our freezer had overheated and the unit was without power for about a day and a half on the hottest days of that month. Sadly, the freezer was full of lovely cuts from our 4th of July hog along with veggies, breads and freezer meals. Nothing could be saved. Lots of tears ensued. But, if you can your meats and veggies, everything can be safely stored in a cool room (like a basement). We have not yet gotten into drying meat or veggies though because that’s a little too extreme for me. When I’m cooking, I do need a certain amount of “ready to cook” value there instead of soaking and boiling before I can even begin dinner. So, let’s get to canning some chicken meat!

Hubby and I love our birds–let me start by saying that. We raise birds (and other animals) to know that what we eat has been raised and slaughtered humanely. Unless requested, I will not be posting any pictures of exactly how we slaughter our animals, although I am happy to post about how I process them. This is one of those posts, but there will be no grossness other than what you would experience with a store-bought bird.I have read in many places about the use of a chicken-killing funnel and thought we would give it a try. We had about average success, and while I won’t go into details just know it takes a LONG time for a chicken to “fall asleep”/calm down while upside down. I’m going to try half-gallon jugs next time just to see if a smaller jug will make them feel more contained and “safer” I guess. We’re going to have to keep experimenting with this one.

Once the two roosters were processed and ready to cook, I put them in a tall pot and covered them with water. After that came to a boil, I let it cook for about 20 minutes, turning them from time to time. Then they came out of the pot to cool until I was able to tear the meat into pieces. The meat went into clean, hot pint jars and topped with hot broth. The rest of the broth went through a strainer and into clean, hot quart jars.

For the meat, I pressure canned the pints at 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes (please refer to NCHFP guidelines) and the broth quarts were pressure canned for 90 minutes.

A few weeks after canning the meat, we slaughtered two more roosters so the crazy pregnant lady could have tamales. Like always, we boiled the chicken in plain old water and pulled the meat off the bones. I tossed the bones back in the pot and let it boil a little longer along with a handful each of carrots, celery, onions and potatoes then canned it all up. Just the other day I pulled the last jar off the shelf and threw it in a pot with a pint of canned chicken meat and some homemade egg noodles and magically made the best dinner ever! I had two bowls (which is highly unusual for me) and Hubby liked it so much he even ate the celery!! Suffice it to say that when we slaughter our meat birds in three weeks I am most certainly going out of my way to make as much of that same soup as I can make room for!

Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

** Obviously a post about pumpkin pie is way out of date for Valentine’s Day, but bear with me–Little One has been quite a handful since 7 months of pregnancy so I’ve been running behind. Now that I’ll be a SAHM with her, I vow to be more dutiful in my blogging. **

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This was from the same weekend I canned cranberry sauce too!

Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin pie from scratch? I know my sister-in-law sure does! You should have seen her eyes on Thanksgiving Day when I told her I was sending her home with one just for her!

Funny thing though, I feel like the concept of scratch cooking conjures one of two images for most people: the first is of the new-agers who buy pre-prepped items and slap them together to form the final product, and second is the typical suburban house wife with (WAAAAYYYY) too much time on her hands sticking her children in front of a screen so she can make her baked goods look just like Martha Stewart’s. I have been guilty of using those pre-prepped items like pie crusts and canned pureed spiced pumpkin, but nothing gets a better reception or better flavor than something made from true scratch. Yes, it takes a lot longer than a Pillsbury crust with Libby’s pumpkin pie filling but in the long-run it is so much cheaper. And for those whose lives revolve around the “what’s-really-in-this” question, the answers are obvious.

So in following with my previous post about canning pumpkin, here’s the recipe I promised! The recipe cards for the crust and filling are way at the bottom for those of you who like to get to the point.

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups flour with 1 stick cold butter (cubed or sliced to incorporate quicker) and slowly add 4-5 tablespoons ice cold water. You want to keep pulsing the mix off and on until it just starts to form a ball. Then pull it out and mix it until it comes together. Lightly flour your surface, split the ball in half (or quarters like I did because I prefer thinner pie crust) and roll out shapes for your pans. Don’t knead it too much though or you’ll get a tough crust. Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this part of the process, but here are my lovely crusts!

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Next, get the amount of pumpkin you need ( I used three quarts) and drain them. Puree this mix in your food processor with 1/4 cup flour. Add the pumpkin mix to your mixing bowl with 6 whole eggs, 1 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup white sugar and the spices listed below. Mix it up and pour in equal amounts into your crusts. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes then 350 for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or cold with ice cream, whipped cream, etc. I adapted this recipe from my mom’s traditional pie (omitted the heavy cream and two spices) and the recipe I’ve laid out here makes four instead of just two pies.

pumpkin pie recipe

Hope you enjoy it!

Love, Betty

XOXOXOXOX

Cranberry Sauce From Scratch

This year, I’m definitely into the holiday thing. With our first child expected a mere 5 days before Christmas, I simply can’t help it!! And yes, I’m one of those people–already planning where the tree will go, what other decorations I need to find, what lights to hang and all with a constant playlist of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in my head. And what does this have to do with cranberries? Well, part of it is to explain that I’ve been craving this amazing concoction for quite some time and also to help everyone else get ready for Thanksgiving (so that Thanksgiving can be over and I can blare Christmas music 24/7 without a word of complaint).

Two years ago when Hubby wasn’t Hubby yet and we were renting a crappy little house with no carpeting, we hosted our first holiday together–Thanksgiving of 2012. And of course I wanted to make a great impression on my future in-laws so I looked up all kinds of traditional recipes to throw together. My favorite holiday recipe was one of those and I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without it! Jill Winger of the Prairie Homestead had a recipe I liked but that I’ve adapted a bit since that first time.

Most recipes call for a 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, but I splurged on my craving and bought the monster 3 pound bag along with a jug of my all-time favorite orange juice (high pulp variety of Simply Orange, its like crack to Hubby and I in case anyone wants brownie points). So, following my adapted recipe at the bottom, you’ll find it comes out rather tart but unbelievably delicious!

509Add orange juice and cranberries to a tall pot and bring to a boil. Stir in sugar and spices. Bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes until all of the berries have popped and the mixture starts to thicken. If you’re like me and you love this smell, its going to take every ounce of your strength to not start drinking the pot (although I admit to burning my tongue on a taste-test—SOOOO worth it!).

Now, if you’re happy with the flavor, you can serve it warm, pop it in the fridge (keeps for a week or so), freeze it (not sure on this one, but probably a few months I’d guess), or do what I do and can it. While the mix was thickening, I was getting my jars clean and hot so as soon as it was ready, into the jars it went and then straight into the hot water bath for 20 minutes (please refer to NCHFP guidelines).

If you wanted to be really smart about things, you could put your spices in a spice bag so you don’t have to go through the trouble to fishing them out one-by-one and then labeling your jars with a warning about cloves, but I was too excited to be bothered with thinking ahead…

spices

Like I said, this recipe made 7 pints (don’t ask me how many are left).

recipe

Happy Holiday Cooking and Feasting!!

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Crock Pot Apple Sauce

With the millions of recipes out there for CrockPot apple sauce, mine is probably the laziest that you’ll come across. God bless Hubby for going so far out of his way to buy my favorite apples in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD (Winesap apples from McGlasson’s Farm to be precise). But his timing and my energy levels could have been much better while were were getting past the rush of a baby shower and home improvements. The two giant brown bags he bought me had to sit on top of the fridge for nearly a month until I had more than two hours put together in a weekend to do something with them. And I wanted to make apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly, apple juice–you name it!–but by last weekend they were in such bad shape all I could do was make apple sauce. And as you know from my previous post about pumpkins, I didn’t make a whole lot either. Normally I like to toss my chunks of apples in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and then process them in my food mill. With just a handful of apples left, I couldn’t justify waiting that long to boil water. So, in steps the Almighty CrockPot.

group shot

All the apples got rough chopped and tossed right into the CP with a splash of store-bought apple cider to keep everything nice and juicy. This mix cooked on high for about 3 hours while I processed the pumpkins. When I stirred the apples and found them dry I added a bit more cider which probably totaled about 2 cups. They softened up right about when the pressure cookers were starting their singing so out came the Foley Food Mill! Just as before, all the scraps (peels, seeds, etc) were saved for Bernice and I ended up with some really delicious apple sauce. I’m not a fan of the store-bought apple cider as it had preservatives that lent a funny taste, but it was all I had.

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Sadly this recipe only made 4 pints so I have to savor it wisely. Next year I’ll get back on par and make my usual amounts to get me through the winter without the icky store-bought stuff. Who knew I’d be such a snob about apple sauce?!

Do you make your own? Do you add spices or sugar? How have you made it in the CP before?

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOX

What to do with your pumpkin after Halloween?

503As I’m sure most all of you have guessed by now, the answer to “what can I do with my leftover pumpkin” is sooo obvious–can it!! I might have a slight addiction, but as far as I know there’s no Canner’s Anonymous (“hi, I’m Betty”, “hello, Betty”). But in the spirit of harvest time, what else is a gal to do? The two lovely pumpkins that I’m canning in this post came from work after we were done with pumpkin bowling. As much abuse as they got, they were still in fantastic shape but my boss wanted to throw them away!–GASP–Step in the savior of little-known useful things! I love conversations akin to the one we had (“You can make a pie out of these?”) *sigh*

479Just as in the previous Mystery Squash 484 post, be sure you gather your (sharpened) tools first along with your bowls and refuse buckets. This time around, I had to step up my game and figure a way to cut through the toughest skins I’ve ever met. Once you get your first cut through, slide a butter knife in there as you go. Although I’m sure it looked like I was committing some kind of vicious crime against those pumpkins, it made me feel I had more control over how quickly my ultra-sharp knife was chopping through. Maybe your pumpkin will be a 480 bit softer. Another tool I found incredibly useful with this little saucer thing meant for saving your tea bag. I can’t remember exactly what struck me that I felt I needed to try it, but it made scraping the guts out much quicker and the membranes didn’t leave their usual stringy stuff behind. Its probably not worth going out to buy if you don’t already have one, but anything similar will give you lots of control and minimize the time you spend cleaning your squashes out.

I’ve never been a huge fan of peeling anything, but cutting the pumpkin into long narrow slices helped to have something to hold onto and quickly whip that tough orangey armor off. And if you have any animals around, be sure you’re saving all that yummy goodness for them. The goat and pig were most appreciative to have the scraps! All the pieces of pumpkin were chopped down to about the size of a quartered kiwi (or a medium strawberry if you like). Toss them in your clean hot jars with 1″ headspace, top with boiling water and lid pieces. Mine were processed for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure (please refer to NCHFP guidelines) and all sealed perfectly–except for this one! This was the first jar I have ever broken while canning, so may we please have a moment of silence?

Betty's first broken jar
Betty’s first broken jar

I assume it was thermal shock because obviously I wouldn’t have used it if my pre-run inspection showed any signs of damage. Oh well, it happens right? Something else I noticed that you might run into would be canning squash with two different water contents. In the pictures below, the left was the tougher (and crumblier) of the two to work with whereas the right picture shows a pumpkin of average water content. I had never come across this before so I opened one of the latter jars to be sure that I didn’t miss something gone awry during processing. There’s nothing wrong with either of them, just that the left pumpkin absorbed most of the water that was in there and the second not as much.

water content

When all was said and done I finished the weekend with 20 quarts of pumpkin, 4 pints of apple sauce, 4 pints of apple cider jelly and 7 pints of my favorite whole cranberry sauce. Tune in next post for the skinny on those adventures!

Happy canning folks!!!

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOXOX

Call it denial, but I don't have any problems with my canning passions.
Call it denial, but I don’t have any problems with my canning passions.

Mystery Squash

When I planned my garden back in January I had the best intentions to be organized and smart about how everything was laid out. I mean, I researched and planned everything from how much broccoli to what grows best with cucumbers to trellises for my beans. In the end, about 99% of this planning went to the birds because I ran out of energy and enthusiasm when my morning sickness kicked in. And to make matters worse I have the unfortunate combination of thick-headedness, bulging sacral discs, and the release of Relaxin (darn you, Mother Nature). All of this meant that I was determined to get things done when Hubby wasn’t there to yell at me and ended up pulling, straining or causing other bodily harm so that nothing productive actually got done.

In the end I wound up with a handful of tomatoes, about 4 rows of corn, kale (that my goat helped itself to), bell peppers, spaghetti squash and this odd-looking orange squash–lots of it. I’ve tried to figure what kind it is but the best I can guess is I bought some kind of winter squash and planted it in just the right spot to flourish wildly. The patch was downhill form the old duck pond so I imagine the ammonia in their poop was what made this and the spaghetti squash so plentiful.

Split the suckers open and scrape out the guts!
Split the suckers open and scrape out the guts!

No matter, I still was determined to do something with the stuff so I bravely cooked it up and tried it–yummy! It had a smell and taste similar to pumpkin and lucky for me it canned up just the same. Although I admit I had no previous experience with farm-stuffs or frugality before I married Hubby, my momma and I canned pumpkin every year for her famed pumpkin pie. Conveniently, the squash are just a little bit smaller and easier to handle. Be sure your knives have been sharpened recently, though. Somehow I always forget this step and have to stop productions to sharpen the two or three I’ve grabbed. I always grab so many just to see which will end up working best.

Separate your chunks from by-products
Separate your chunks from by-products

Anyways, scrape out the insides and rinse the seeds for munchies if you like those. I couldn’t get to that step this time, but maybe next time… All of the chunks ended up being about the size of a quartered kiwi–not too big, but also not so small that you’re wasting your time. Toss the chunks in a hot quart jar, top with boiling water, lid and seal and process those bad boys in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for an hour and a half (see NCHFP guidelines here for adjustments).

Now I don’t know why, but for some reason I can never just can one thing at a time. I always end up canning at least two other things at the same time. Its a great way to utilize my free time (weekends only at this point), and I love how well stocked we are. So while I was chopping and peeling squash I was also boiling beans (using Jill’s recipe which I love and have down to an art) and the next day made a bit of chicken soup. I ended with a total of 6 1/2 quarts chicken soup, 12 quarts squash, and 14 1/2 quarts of beans.

Squash, beans and chicken soup!
Squash, beans and chicken soup!

And this is how much I love y’all—I’m going to share my newest recipe for the squash! I call it Mexi-Squash Spaghetti Sauce and its an absolute miracle when I need to throw dinner together pretty quickly. Here it is, I hope you like it as much as Hubby does!

mexi-squash spaghetti sauce

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Do you have any recipes for squash? Aside from pumpkin pie, this has got to be my favorite of all time! If you try it and tweak it, let me know so I can try it too!

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOX