Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Learning to can......

So, I wrote a while back about buying a canner and teaching myself to can. Well, I guess I didn't really NEED the canner. I've only water bathed so far but I WILL pressure can something soon. I think....... I'm building up to that.

This is what I have done so far.

I have grape jelly, apple jelly, hot pepper jelly, watermelon jelly, vinegar pickles, banana pepper rings and jalapeno pepper rings.

The grape jelly and apple jelly, I made from frozen juice concentrate but all the other stuff is fresh from the garden. Well, I didn't grow the watermelon(mine didn't come out this year), but my neighbor did! Aren't those shiny jars just beautiful? I have to say that the watermelon jelly is so good I want to eat it right out of the jar with a spoon. It's quickly becoming a famous item in Lacassine, La. lol

I was so nervous making my first couple of batches but I've relaxed and it's becoming quite fun. I really, really enjoy it. Even if you do just a few jars a day it really adds up. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to learn such an important skill. I mean, really, it's just jelly and pickles but it kinda goes deeper than that.

Today I have to deal with this......

But, I'm not complaining. I'm very blessed to have it to deal with. I love not having to buy peppers from the store. I just have to decide what to do with them. Can them, freeze them or dehydrate them?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What warm clothes does

to sleepy cats.
Can you see him?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cleaning the Oven

I cleaned my oven today. I consider myself a pretty good homemaker but this is not my favorite chore. It's not exactly on the list of my top priorities. I'm ashamed to admit that it's been at least a year since I've done it. It was really, really bad. I would have been embarrassed had someone looked in there. YIKES! How does that stuff get in there anyway? I mean, it's not like I stand there and throw the food directly into it.

I'm not one to use many harsh chemicals in my house but there is a time and place for everything. Today, I made friends with a can of Easy Off. Thank God for this stuff or I would have put off cleaning the oven for at least another year. I left it on there for several hours and I still had some scrubbing to do. After about 45 minutes, it looks brand new!! Ok, maybe not BRAND new. There are a few spots that we'll just have to live with. I'm done. My legs are numb from kneeling and my hands are raw. I scrubbed straight through one of those sponges with the scrubber thingy on them.

Oh well, at least it's done now and I feel better about myself. ;-) I'll try not to let it go another year. I mean, it would be much easier if it were done regularly right? Or not...........

Note to self..................A self cleaning oven is worth the extra $$$.

Go forth ladies (and gentlemen) and take a look at your oven. Is it screaming in agony like mine was or do you take extra good care of it?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One more week!!!

Bubba saw his dentist this morning. He said he'll take out the wires next week and if everything looks good he'll keep them off. Woo Hoo!!! Pray for him ya'll. He needs this out of his mouth. He's lost over 20 pounds that he really didn't have to spare. It's hard to believe it's been over 5 weeks already. I'm ready for this to be over with.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is the traditional Monday supper here in Louisiana. Stories say it's because Monday was always wash day and one of the busiest days for a homemaker. She could put on a pot of beans and they could simmer away while she went about her work.

I tell ya, things haven't changed much for me. Monday is my busiest cleaning day of the week. It's amazing how things can pile up over the weekend.

I cooked a pot of beans and rice Monday. Here's how I did it. (Now, ya'll bear with me. I'm no Pioneer Woman here. Most of my pictures are horrible!)
I started with 2 cups of rinsed dried red kidney beans, a big spoonful of garlic, dried parsley, Tony's seasoning, 1 large bellpepper, 1 medium onion and about a 1/2 lb link of smoked sausage.
Now, if I were making this for company I would add alot more sausage, but most of us are trying to cut our grocery budgets and well, we really don't need that much smoked sausage at one time anyway. Instead of cutting it in slices, I slice each slice into quarters. It stretches it further.

Pour a little oil in the bottom of a heavy pot. Just barely coat the bottom, not too much. Add in the onion, bell pepper and sausage.
Cook this over medium to medium high heat until it all gets nice and brown. You want the bottom of the pot to get brown, but not burt so be careful, don't keep your heat too high. I was going to get another picture here but my camera was being crazy.

Once you get that nice brown on the bottom you need to get it up. Pour in two cups of COLD water into the pot and scrape all those brown bits up.

See, you already have a nice brown gravy. You could even put this over rice if you wanted to.

Now put in your beans, garlic and a good sprinkling of dried or fresh parsley(whatever you have). There are no food police here. Now you add the water. At this point you want to completely cover the beans plus about 2 more inches of water over the top.

Bring to a good rolling boil and then bring it down to a hard simmer.

This is 30 minutes in.

This is about where you want your water level to stay now. It's just covering the beans but there's still enough of it that there's plenty for the beans to absorb. You can put a lid on it and come back and stir it and check the water level every 15 minutes or so. Add more water if you need to. Don't burn them!!! Scorched beans are NASTY!!! But of course, I'VE never done that. ;-)

Here we are 2 hours later! Yummy. Now, I season it. I didn't put the seasoning at the beginning because supposedly the salt will keep the beans tough. I can't tell you how much salt and pepper to put, just season to your liking. If you have too much water, just boil it a bit longer with the lid off so it can evaporate. To make it creamy, smash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of your spoon. The starches will come out and thicken the the gravy. Serve this over a scoop of rice with some buttered cornbread on the side. We also top ours with pickled jalapenos or banana peppers or vinger pickles. I'll introduce you to those in another post. This is good stuff people.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ok, Ok, I know I need to update.....

So, it's been a while since I posted. I told ya'll this would be hard for me!!! I have the hardest time coming up with things to write about. Well, that's not entirely true. I come up with topics in my head all the time. It's getting them typed out that's my problem.

We went to Holly Beach this past weekend. It's always been one of our main summer destinations. After years and years of spending the summers there, I started taking it for granted. It even got to the point where I was sick on going.

Holly Beach is not a pretty place by most people's standards. There's no white sand or blue water. The water looks more like chocolate milk. She has a beauty all her own. If you look past her surface flaws, you find a very whimsical, enchanting place. I have lots and lots of good memories there.

One day in September 2005 a big bad wolf named Rita came blowing in to Holly Beach with her 15+ foot wall of water and changed this
Into this

The first time I went back after the storm, I couldn't hold back the tears. It almost felt like a part of me was pulled out. Not to mention the hurt I felt for the people who lived there, in Cameron and Creole. Thankfully everyone had evacuated and no one lost their lives.

Today they are rebuilding but it's not the same. The landmarks are gone. Most of the roads are washed away. I can't tell where anything used to be. New people have moved in and bought lots and built huge fancy houses, which in my opinion is silly but, that's their business. It used to be such a laid back place with all it's little cabins. It didn't look like anybody was trying to outdo anybody else as far as material possessions go. With all these big houses, it looks like they are trying to pretend they're in some resort town. A resort town Holly Beach is not! lol I guess I just don't do well with change but I feel like it's changed the whole atmosphere there.

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