Caramel Apples

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Pompeño Jelly

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See my Pomegranate Jelly post for regular pomegranate jelly and the general jelly making process.  This time I turned it up a notch and incorporated jalapeños from my garden for an extra kick!  I had had about 40 pomegranates, which made about 3 quarts of juice once I strained out the extra pulp that made it through the juicer.

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My 40 beautiful poms –>

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Juice the poms

The last time I juiced poms (see Pomegrantate Jelly post) we used cheesecloth and carefully separated the seeds (arils) then juiced them.  This time we used a Jack La Lane juicer, cut both ends off of the poms, quartered them and threw them in the juicer.  Including the whole pom seemed to make it have a more distinct pomegranate flavor.  I think this is similar to why people zest oranges and lemons.  The rind has a very strong, distinct flavor.  I would use this method again.  It is quicker and captures all of the pom goodness!

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I recommend using a bowl under the container you are collecting juice in.  This minimizes the juice wasted and helps with the mess.

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Infuse the juice with jalapeño

I used my small chopper.  I poured in some juice, cut up two small jalapenos and threw them in, seeds and all!  I chopped for about 2 minutes.  I then ran the juice through a strainer to strain the big chunks of jalapeno and seeds out.  The more adventurous may want to keep the chunks.  Since this was an experiment I erred on the side of caution.

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So I made 2 regular batches of Pomegrantate Jelly and one trial batch of pompeño jelly!

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For the basic process, see my Pomegrantate Jelly post.  The main things to remember are add the pectin to the pom juice and stir constantly over high heat…

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Add the sugar once the mixture has come to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Then, boil for one minute.

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Follow the direction on the Pomegrantate Jelly post and you will end up with beautiful jars of jelly that will be a nice sweet treat to spread on toast or a biscuit on a cold winter day.

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Canning and home preserving has been a lovely new venture for us.  I love the fact that you can put the taste, smell and feel of a summer or fall fresh fruit or vegetable in a can to later be opened and enjoyed.  It is a fabulous feeling!  It is a labor of love and I love the whole process.  Stay classy my friends!

Antibiotics: Doctoring Food Animals

Giving antibiotics to food animals is a hotly debated topic.  I’ve spent a fair share of time giving vaccinations and doctoring sick calves on our ranch and others.  I would like to tell you first hand that people producing animals for food are not just administering drugs to animals all willy-nilly!  Food animal production is a careful science and to many farming families it is their income and purpose in life.  Raising animals is often a rewarding experience and lifestyle but it is also hard work and it takes a special breed of person to do it!

The FDA and other regulatory bodies regulate the types and amounts of drugs that can be administered to animals.  There are even more stringent regulations and withdrawal periods for livestock raised for meat and milk production.

Treating sick animals is expensive!  No rancher wants a calf to get sick because it directly effects their productivity and bottom line.  Ranchers also have compassion and don’t want the animal to suffer. When an animal is sick it is not gaining weight and developing like its contemporary group.  Just like humans, when animal disease and sickness is not treated, it spreads.  The vaccinations given to animals throughout their lives are to help them, not harm them.

Generally, calves raised in the beef industry are treated with antibiotics when they get sick.  The antibiotics and other medications have specific withdrawal times.  See the Beef Magazine article below for more information about withdrawal times.  An animal cannot be harvested until the applicable withdrawal time has passed.  The FDA and USDA have done many studies on withdrawal times and the length of time antibiotics stay in the animal’s system.  They also consistently do testing in harvest facilities to make sure producers are following the rules and keeping our food safe.

My main point is that it is good to know where your food comes from and monitor it’s safety, but stay informed and don’t believe the scare tactics put forth by activists groups.  The American food system is safe and highly regulated.  Farmers and ranchers struggle every day to meet the strictest regulations and put a safe product in your grocery store.  Be thankful you have high quality, safe food!

“According to the CDC, the most urgent threats are posed by antibiotic-resistant infections that have emerged in hospitals, as a result of heavy antibiotic use there.”

Repost from The Salt

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/09/16/223109560/cdc-deadliest-drug-resistance-comes-from-hospitals-not-farms

Beef Magazine – Understanding Animal Drug Withdrawal Times

http://beefmagazine.com/blog/guide-understanding-animal-drug-withdrawal-times

Pomegranate Jelly

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I’m new to canning and due to the science involved and potential food borne illness that can result from veering from time-tested recipes, I choose to use Ball’s recipes: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipe.aspx?r=52. I’ve included excepts from their recipe (in green) below.
You will need:
3-1/2 cups prepared or bottled pomegranate juice (about 5 large or 2 16-oz bottles)
6 Tbsp Ball® RealFruit® Classic Pectin
1/2 tsp butter or margarine, optional
5 cups sugar
6 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands
Note: Wear rubber gloves to keep your hands from being stained.
We didn’t wear gloves and the poms didn’t stain our hands, but during the juicing process it definitely stained my shirt!
Juicing the Pomegranates
Juicing the Pomegranates is the most daunting task if it is your first time. Here I’ve tried explain what worked and didn’t work for us. We juiced six pomegranates from my friends’ tree.
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Preparing the Pomegranates (Poms):

  • Cut open the pom by removing the cap. Slice off the top as you would slicing off the top of a pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern. You must remove all of the seeds (arils) before juicing.
  • Slice down each of the yellowish membrane sections. A pomegranate is split into sections, similar to an orange. Keep that in mind when slicing the fruit into sections along the membranes.
  • Pull the sections apart like an orange and remove the arils. Drop the seeds into a bowl of cold water. This will make the extra membrane float which allows for further separation.

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Drain the seeds by running the bowl through a colander.

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Pick out any membrane that may have gotten caught with the seeds. You must remove all the membrane or the juice will be bitter.

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Pour the seeds into the ricer or into a fine sieve or cheesecloth to juice them.
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The ricer was Tracy’s idea and it seemed to work great until it broke. I’m not sure if it was Joe’s incredible strength or the Ikea ricer’s lack of fortitude. We will never know.
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Cheesecloth came to the rescue and we finished juicing the poms. We were ecstatic to have 3 1/2 cups of juice!
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Making the Jelly

Directions:
1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) PLACE pomegranate juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Add up to 1/2 tsp butter or margarine to reduce foaming, if desired. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
3.) ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
We didn’t experience enough foaming to bother skimming it off, but batches vary and if there is foam be sure to skim it off the top.
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4.) LADLE hot jelly into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
Although the jelly was pipingy hot, it set up very quickly! Filling hot jars is critical. Make sure your jars stay hot by keeping them in the dishwasher until you are ready to use them.
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5.) PROCESS in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
We ended up with enough jelly for only five of the six jars. Hmm..maybe we were a little short on juice?! I can’t wait to spread some of this pom jelly on a slice of bread while sitting by the fire reading this winter!

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Thanks Kenzie for helping us document the process by taking phenomenal pictures!

Thank you Gina & Hannah for the fresh poms!

Thank you Joe & Tracy for your help making the jelly and using your kitchen. You know I love to get messy in your kitchen 😉

More Ball canning recipes: http://www.freshpreserving.com/home.aspx

Project Celery

I’m enjoying watching my celery grow in my kitchen window. All it needs is air, sunlight and water. I’m easily amused and won’t be buying celery again as long as I can grow my own. It’s so simple! You just cut the end off of the celery stalk and place it in a bowl of water. That’s it! Recycle, reduce, reuse!

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Week 1

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Week 2

Cooped up

WHY RAISE CHICKENS?

 

chickens

 

As a backyard chicken farmer, you and your flock will do a lot to support the health and wellbeing of our environment:

  • Chickens help eliminate household organic waste by eating everything from vegetable scraps to garden and lawn clippings, saving it from the dump and turning it into something useful
  • Chicken manure serves as an excellent organic fertilizer for your lawn and garden, eliminating the need for harmful chemical alternatives
  • Unlike most store bought eggs, backyard chicken eggs do not require industrial cleaning, packaging or shipping, making them much more environmentally friendly

http://getcoopedup.com/why-chickens/

 

 

The above descriptions are true. Additionally, they don’t take up much space and are fairly low maintenance. My personal favorite is their entertainment value. Each time I enter the pen to feed and water them or give them food scraps I giggle at their reactions. They make funny little noises and move their heads around checking out whatever I have with me. So far I have at least one egg per day and I’ve had three chickens for a week, then got two more a couple days ago. Like any animal, stress decreases their production. It is very likely that their production will increase once they get settled in their new coop after being caged, transported and released into a new place.

 

We used a friend’s old chicken coop and put a dog kennel around it to keep our dogs out. When you have more dogs than chickens and they aren’t used to each other it is recommended to keep them separate. Also, if the chickens are roaming free they poop everywhere. I prefer containment and they don’t seem to mind it. Even when the dogs are locked up and we let them roam free, they don’t go far from their home. Giving chickens plenty of food, water, shade and shelter is critical to overall health and production.

 

Having fresh eggs is great and the chickens are fascinating. I’m enjoying every minute of this new venture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beefaloaf

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Tonight we had our friends over for dinner. We had meatloaf, mashed potatoes, bread and salad. Sounds tame, right? Wrong! I like to make things fun. I think I got it from my mom who always had fun baking and craft projects for us growing up. It’s the little things that make life interesting!

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A few weeks ago while cleaning out the kitchen I sorted through my mom’s extravagant cookie cutter collection to find a steer!

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How appropriate since it is steer season for Mr. Reid and I! A little imagination and friends willing to try anything made for a fun night and delicious dinner! We named our masterpiece “beefaloaf” and it paired perfectly with mashed potatoes!

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Recipe:

Ingredients:
3 lbs ground beef
3 eggs
2 cups 2% milk
4 slices of bread torn into small pieces

Add a mixture of seasonings…I used:

Onion powder
Garlic powder
Paprika
Oregano
Basil
Thyme
Brown sugar
Salt
Pepper

Combine ingredients above and mix well.

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Mold using cookie cutter.

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Top with sauce.

Sauce:
Ketchup
BBQ sauce
Brown sugar
Dijon mustard

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Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

 

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Mooove over Rachel Ray…there’s a new 30 minute chef in town!

 

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Have fun plating your beefaloaf too!  Tracy recommends adding “clouds” and “pasture”.