Thursday, June 30, 2011

After all the hard work - seal it!

After all the hard work cleaning chopping and drying, the best way to store and preserve your dried goodies is using a vacuum sealer.

I have one like this:  FoodSaver V2840 Advanced Design Vacuum Food Sealer

I use bags now and then, for meat etc.. I have found the weston brand to be the cheapest.
Weston 30-0101-W 8-by-12-Inch Vacuum-Sealer Food Bags, 100 Count

I've not had any failures and I'm half way through my first box.

BUT - if you have canning jars like I do, then the foodsaver jar sealer is the answer, its under $10 and is used in conjunction with your sealing machine, using the tubing that comes with the machine.
FoodSaver T03-0023-01 Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer
You can re-use it tons of times, you don't waste bags by cutting them open and making them too small to re-seal etc..  you can vacuum seal anything you can put into the jar!  I love it.

You do need to wiggle a spoon at the rim to get it open after its been sealed, it makes it a little ticky to open - but you'll add months of life to your food. 
Some people make a tiny hole in their lids, seal that hole with some tape (electrical) then seal the jar, when they need to open the jar, they remove the tape to release the suction on the lid, the tape can be put back or a new piece used and resealed again.

All in all - the jar sealer saves money!


More Dehydrating today

Today I prepared Broccoli, an apple and a few kiwi fruit.  I know you shouldn't mix fruit and veggies in the dehydrator, but I don't want to leave shelves empty.  I wanted to do carrots but I don't have enough right now - so that will be next week if I can find some for a good price.

The apple I peeled sliced and soaked in a pretreatment, I then sprinkled with a sugar cinnamon mix to see how that will turn out.

The Kiwi fruit was just peeled sliced and pre-treated.

Two crowns of broccoli, soaked a few minutes in salted water to make sure no bugs.  Then chopped into the little florets, steam blanched for 4 minutes and spread on trays.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Drying veggies today

Today is veggie drying day.  I'm actually surprised it took me so long to get it all ready and started in the dehydrator.   (almost 2 hours)
I started with cherry tomatoes and two large tomatoes on their last legs.  A green pepper, 4 or 5 mushrooms, a celery, and 3 potatoes (sliced and blanched for 3 minutes)

I'm going to vacuum seal them into canning jars.

With the potatoes I'm going to try experiment and replicate the boxed cheesy potatoes you buy in the store.  I have a bag of powdered cheese, and a powdered sour cream (not sure if I'll use that or not)


Green Pepper


At 125 degrees, the drying time as follows:
Potato sliced medium (mandoline) = 5 hours
Green pepper, roughly chopped = 7 hours
Mushrooms sliced = 5 hours
Celery sliced = 6 hours
Tomato sliced = 6 hours
Cherry tomatoes cut in half = 10 hours (and some were still a little soft)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fruit and Yogurt...

Dehydrator washed and loaded.

I used 4 trays for fruit roll-ups and 2 trays of yogurt drops.  (I'm hoping their shorter drying time will have them ready before I go to bed)
Tomorrow will be the veggies....

Mix of Blueberry, Strawberry and applesauce

Blueberry and apple.

Yogurt drops.  Just spoons of yogurt pressed a little with a spoon to flatten them a bit.

And Done!


Waiting for the UPS guy to show up with my Excalibur today, I'm so excited.  So trying to keep busy. 

I made 5 batches of laundry soap - got my food processor in the dishwasher now, no need for soap in there as it was coated already. 

I'm watching my celery, my attempt at regrowing it.   Cut off an inch and a half at the base, and standing in a dish with water...

Got to hang up a load of laundry and start another - only two today. 

HURRY UP 2:30pm (thats normally when UPS shows up)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hail and thunderstorm...

We had a nasty storm blow through last night just after 10pm.  Bringing hail the size of quarters.

I was so worried about windows and our veggie garden.  The windows were all fine, and most of my veggie plants made it through ok, some of them are protected on the North side by a huge pine tree.  So those, my corn, potatoes, onions, beans, and potatoes seemed to come through ok. 
My raised beds are covered with netting, and they're ok too - those are the Peas, broccoli and my rosemary plant (lettuce never sprouted)

My squash, watermelon and pumpkin took the biggest hit, the watermelon almost flat on the ground.  The pumpkin had its leaves torn up a little bit.

My corn, you can just see some of the onions as well on the right.

My row of potatoes

Damaged pumpkin leaves.

My poor watermelon.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Series 9 Tray Food Dehydrator - Black

I did it, I purchased the Excalibur Dehydrator from Amazon today.

Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Series 9 Tray Food Dehydrator - Black

I also purchased the sheets to make fruit leathers and roll-ups.

Pack of 9 Premium 14" x 14" Non-Stick Dehydrator Sheets- For Excalibur 2500, 3500, 2900 or 3900

Now I just need to plan what I want to make, I do know Jerky will be on that list - right near the top.  I will no longer need to dry my jerky in batches.  I might also offer to dehydrate for friends and neighbors, for the cost of the electricity. (we'll see when Hunting season starts)

I purchased a mandoline slicer so I can work through the veggies faster and get even slices for drying.
Swissmar Borner V-1001 V-Slicer Plus Mandoline 6 Piece Set

I used the mandoline last night and made "skinny fries"  I used the julliene blade to cut the potato up and fried them in a deep fryer... they were delicious.
I have a tiny little Fry Daddy, I purchased several years ago...  Presto 05420 FryDaddy Electric Deep Fryer

Old Jeans - upcycled!

I've been saving old jeans for at least a year now, I was in the mind to make a quilt large enough for a bed, but that would take me forever, and I prefer projects that take a lot less time.

So I made a few cushion covers! 

Number 1 - for Trenton
Number 2 - Gillian

Number 3, still working on it, I will add some beads, etc... right now its drying after a turn in the washing machine to fluff it out a little.  The first two didn't get a go in the washer, the kids were way to excited to get their pocket cushion covers.  Each of the covers has a pocket, the kids ones have a closure on the pockets, the third has no closure.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Kindle, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology  
Love the kindle, downloaded another book today, my kids also have kindles!  Although no color pictures etc.  they're fantastic to cart around instead of books, and we no longer need to worry about where to keep all the books.

The Last Child

Rain rain rain.....The Hunger Games

Its been raining for days, we luckily missed any tornado's that were touching down in Nebraska.

I purchased a book on Amazon for my kindle on Saturday afternoon, and I was sucked in really fast, a book I never normally would have purchased, but it had such good reviews.

The Hunger Games

I finished it in record time and purchased book 2 and 3 in the series and just finished those too.  The best books I've read in a while, I downloaded them to my son's kindle too!
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)

From Amazon: the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lovely Day!!

A beautiful sunny day today, after hanging laundry I got stuck into my veggie garden, lots of weeds to pull. 

I still have work to do, but its coming along nicely!  I have to make some tomato cages, and fence off another area for the squash, pumpkins and watermellon. 


Momma duck and one of her babies

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer is hereeeee - Ice pops are in the freezer!

I recently purchased the following ice pop molds:
Orka A47221 Ice Pop Molds, White Base
Tovolo 80-8003Y Yellow Groovy Ice Pop Molds, Set of 6
Tovolo 80-8002G Green Star Ice Pop Molds, Set of 6

I made some last night, some with juice for the kids and I made 4 star shaped ones with Mocha coffee.  I used about 2 cups of coffee (leftovers from my morning) I added 3 tablespoons of torani white chocolate syrup
Torani Original Mocha Sauce, White Chocolate, 16.5-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 6)

A dash of Vanilla coffee creamer, mixed it all up and poured into the molds.  4 hours later I had an Iced Mocha on a stick!!

I'm currently trying a Jello/juice mix to see if I can make the ice pops easier to eat, and not ROCK hard as the plain juice ones are.  I mixed a 3oz package of Strawberry Jello, with 1 cup boiling water, 1 cup cold after all the jello powder mixed in.  2 cups of V8 light juice.  poured into molds and now we're waiting on them!



The jello added to the juice mix makes for a much better texture, like the ice pops you buy in the store and not a solid block of ice.