Monday, April 18, 2011

Ball Blue Book Giveaway

Cleaning out the cellar a week or so ago. As I move this box and that box, rearrange this crate & shove that crate over there I find these two new or nearly new canning utensils, a jar lifter and a funnel. No box just these two put inside an empty pot covered by a lid tucked behind an apple crate.
I really do need to either keep a running log of my canning supplies or simply stop buying "stuffs".

Finding these reminded me of when I first started canning and why.
I had just bought this old fixer upper the year before.
I had also just gotten divorced after 10 yeas of being married.
I had three young children under the age of six.
My grand total of monthly income with child support was just over $600. Thankfully at the time my mortgage was under $250 a month.
I was sitting on an elderly neighbor's porch talking about putting in a garden and freezing my harvest since I hads moved here with a small upright freezer.
The conversation turned toward home canning which I had done only once with my Abuela as a young girl. Pears from a tree she had planted. Had I ever considered canning my neighbor asked ? I was too embarresszed to admit that I couldn't afford the equipment.
Next thing I knew my neighbor was telling me to send the children to the corner deli for boxes that she had someting for me in her cellar I needed to go get.
She stood at the top of her basement steps yelling down to me to open the door to the root cellar and behind apple crates (which must be a given in Buffalo basements) stacked on shelves were canning jars. A good sixty or more.
She apologized for there not being more she had been a career woman so she only canned a few things. Nothing like her mother or aunts.
Are you sure ?
Yes oh please yes just fill them. Feed your babies.

Part of me wanted to be embarrassed. After all I was a nurse who if child care wasn't an issue could earn enough money to feed her children well. This was my shit hit the fan scenario.
As we hauled up the boxes of clinking mason jars past her she just keep saying how happy I had made her. How happy she was to know that these jars would be used.

I still have those jars ... Ball, Kerr, Atlas, Anchor Hocking, Opal, Perfect Mason, Strong Shoulder.
We still use the Squeezo she gifted us.
In our backyard. Just like she said her husband use to use it cranking away sitting on the picnic table smoking a Camel and sipping on a beer yelling to her to get the jars ready the tomatoes are coming.

Seriously, the first produce I ever canned by myself was applesauce from an apple tree located in front of the YWCA a few blocks away. I'll never forget the day I walked in and asked the receptionist if I could pick apples or her stunned reply when just as she was starting to say that those apples aren't edible she looked down and saw my three children each eating an apple.
I checked out a Ball Blue Book from the public library, and used a big stock pot borrowed from my church's kitchen.
I scored a small box of gnarly looking rings @ an estate sale and bought lids from a $ store.

Allot happened that first year.
I started a cleaning business were my clients understood that my children worked with me.
I eventually found decent affordable child care that my other two children could walk to from school which gave me an opportunity to work on call @ local nursing home.
I also learned to can applesauce.
Which we ate on cooked oatmeal.
Or baked with.
Or just plain eaten with a spoon an a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top.
I filled those jars and feed my babies.

So yesterday I reach for my recipe binder and out pops this new Ball Blue Book of Canning 100th Anniversary Ed. that was gifted to me last Christmas. While I appreciate the sediment I already have a well worn edition of Ball's Big Book of Canning, along with Putting Food By & Stocking Up.

So in the spirit of my neighbor and dear friend who recently passed away I present my first ever give away.
If this offends u that the utensils aren't NIB or that I am re gifting a book that I admittedly thumbed through, well all I can say is that this must be the first blog post you have ever read written by me.
Let me introduce myself, I'm pelenaka, an ghetto Amish urban homesteader who is fugal.

Here's the bind - I really want to give this to a canning newbie, a novice. Hopefully someone who would really use the skills of home canning to make a difference in their home both financially and nutritionally. So I ask that if you already own a canning book & or canning utensils please don't enter.
I will also include a box of both regular and wide mouth lids to get you started. NIB I'm not that fugal.
All u have to do is hunt down those empty jars at yard sales, flea markets, or your grandmother's cellar.

That said, simply write me an email with the subject line "Ball Blue Book Giveaway" to enter. 
My email addy is located on the right hand side of my blog under give a shout out.
I'll write every one's name who enters on a slip of pink paper and  put them in a half gallon Ball canning jar then shake it up.
Winner will be picked by someone other than myself.
Not sure who yet but it's gotta be some buddy good.

Winner will be picked May 2nd by 9 p.m. Buffalo time a.k.a. EST.
You'll have 48 hours to return my notification email that your the winner with the address u want the package to be sent to.

In the event that I don't receive a reply back from the winner within 48 hours then another slip of pink paper will be drawn from the canning jar and I'll send them a notification email.
Please respond promptly canning season is sooner than you think.

~~ pelenaka ~~


Greek For Yogurt

Sometime between when I made yogurt put it in the fridge to chill and I snapped this pic a full quart was consummed in a day & half. DD#3 alibi up girl.

Greek style yogurt is one of the few made from scratch items that my children actually eat too much of, especially my last baby. She will eat yogurt with fruit, yogurt with jam or jelly for breakfast, lunch, and as an afternoon snack.
This week while she's sorting around the pantry shelves for home canned fruit I'm enjoying not so fresh strawberries with a few mushy kiwis sweetened with homegrown Stevia for myself.
It really does make a nice afternoon snack.

Cost of Making like a Greek

$2.34    Gallon of 2% Milk @ Aldis
    .99    Plain Yogurt (starter culture)
$5.99    Dry Nonfat Powdered Milk @ Aldis - $5.99/25.6 oz
$9.32 = 160 oz. Greek style plain yogurt or 6¢ per oz.

Using the entire box of powdered milk not only gives an extra quart of yogurt (not pictured d/t last baby) increases the protein content, and gives that thick pudding consistency.
Another option is to use plain gelatin as a thickener.

To answer every one's question no I don't own a yogurt maker.
I do own a good quality stainless steel stock pot, long handled stainless steel spoon, and of course mason jars. Personally I use one of my trusty old Roncho Electric food dehydrators to incubate. If the wood stove is fired up I set the jars on long legged trivets with a cookie sheet behind to reflect the stove's warmth.

David B. Fankhauser, Ph.D. site is where I first learned to make yogurt. Excellent directions he does a wonderful job of explain all the scientific aspects. While your there check out his pages on cheese making. You never know when you'll come across a great deal on milk either @ the grocery of off the back of a truck.
What's the point of scoring a great opportunity if you don't have the skills to fully utilize your good fortune ?

K, almost forgot about the cost of toppings which varies anywhere from pretty much just the cost of a canning lid, flavorings or spices, and sugar if I either grow or score free fruit such as Strawberries & Rhubarb or Almond flavored Peaches.
Canning with a thought toward yogurt toppings (think also pancake/waffle/pound cake) lends well to second run or wind fall fruit. That is fruit that has been discounted due to being a bit past it's prime. This fruit is more labor intensive often requiring patience with a paring knife to cut out bruised & bad sections so take that into account when your negotiating a deal @ the farmers market or fruit stand. Figure a good 3rd of what you'll buy will end up in the compost pile
Also remember that once you buy it you need to process it a.s.a.p. as in yesterday.

~~ pelenaka ~~
who needs to defrost her shoebox of a freezer