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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Easy Nights

For the past week and half or so we've had pretty low temperatures in the 30's.  I had some pepper plants outside that I was trying to let ripen completely before I set them out for seed drying.  But...since I was late planting them and they clearly weren't hitting their fully ripe stage, I went ahead and snatched them off the plants before frost hit.  I put them on my kitchen windowsill in hopes that they will ripen.  

If y'all have any tips on this, please share!  

Agave, bamboo, and another plant I'm not sure the name of!  Getting everything inside before cool weather really hits.

Baby red bells & cayenne peppers

Tobasco peppers waiting to be turned into homemade tobasco sauce

This morning I had all intentions of coming home after work and spending the day mastering meatloaf....but that didn't happen.  Starbucks & Jason's Deli sounded like a better idea so I decided on making an easy dinner instead.  Ever have those days?  I have them about 3 times a week (and I usually cook 5 out of the 7 so it happens more often than not.)  

With the chilly temperatures we've been having, I figured a comfort food was in order.  Joe will be excited to see that chili is on the menu instead of meatloaf.  He wasn't too thrilled when I told him that's what I had planned for the evening.  

Now, chili is one of those dishes that everybody makes different and I think you like whatever you grew up on.  I'm a simple person so I like simple dishes.  When it comes to chili, I don't want to spend my time throwing in veggies, curing the sauce, using a bunch of herbs or whatever else it is that people put in it.  Okay so it may not be too complicated, but I like eating what I grew up on and veggies were not in it!  

My chili has tomato sauce, chili beans, homemade taco seasoning, extra chili powder, and ground beef.  I brown the ground beef and drain it, add it to my pot of tomato sauce, chili beans, and seasonings, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.  Voila!!  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Add a pan of homemade buttermilk cornbread and a big ole' glass of milk and you've got a delicious and easy supper.  

Chili Ingredients

2 cans tomato sauce
1 can chili beans
1 pound ground beef (or ground deer)
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 tablepsoon chili powder

I'd love to hear your variations on chili and what you grew up on!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday Night Dinner

Tonight I sit here watching The Voice, tummy full, glass of wine in hand, and the sound of power tools in the background.  Joe is busy making a new feeder for the boys' food and water bowls.  I came across this yummy deer roast recipe from my favorite blog and it was just as delicious as it looked on her post.  You can find it here.

I fell upon this blog about 2 years ago when I was starting to research my obsession on canning.  You'll often see my refer to it because this incredible woman is full of so much knowledge and I admire her greatly.  Okay...back to this kick ace dinner.

My family hunts (and when I say my family, I mean my dad and stepbrothers), and we've learned to surround ourselves with hunters as well because of our love of Deer.  I will eat deer any way I can: in spaghetti, fried, slow cooked, baked, you get it...  Throughout the year we have deer stocked in our freezer but today I used my last deer roast.  It was a sad day, but also a glorious one because of how good this deer roast was.  

First I took my deer roast, dried it off well, and seared it in my cast iron skillet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  You just want to sear it til it's nice and brown on each side.  

Then I took some of my frozen onions and browned them in my skillet to get all of those yummy juices soaked into them.  

Now, you'll want to take your roast of your skillet once it's browned on each side (before you put the onions in) and place it on a plate or cutting board to let it cool a bit.  Cut about 5 slits in the top of your roast and place sliced garlic in it.  If you really like garlic you could probably add a whole clove in each slit but I'm a little leery of that much garlic so I opted to use one clove for the whole roast.  Next time I'll use more garlic for sure.  

Place your roast in the crockpot.  She calls for 1 teaspoon of thyme, 1 tablespoon parsley, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and pepper to taste.  I'm not a fan of thyme, and I had no mushrooms on hand so I used 1 quart deer broth (you could substitute beef or chicken broth with bouillon cubes just  make sure it covers the roast), 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, the onions from the skillet, and topped the roast with 1/2 stick of butter. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours.

When the roast was cooked, I took it out and placed it on a platter and covered it with foil to let it rest.  I then added 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon of corn starch with enough water to make a paste and poured it into my crock pot (set on high still).  Be sure to stir it well and let it simmer for about 30 minutes and you'll have your gravy!  I sliced my roast and covered it in gravy because I felt it looked more homestyled.  Joe did not grow up on deer like I did so sometimes he gets that shy sparkle in his eye when I tell him deer is for supper and it's a new recipe.  Rest assured that if you are not a venison fan, he said you couldn't tell that this was deer. I wasn't sure whether to take that as a compliment or if he was bashing my cooking but he seemed to enjoy it and so did I so I didn't care too much.  

For my sides I used a quart jar of my canned potatoes, drained them, mashed them and mixed them with some buttermilk, salt and pepper.  And some zipper cream peas from my stepmom's garden.

Just some good ole southern homestyle cooking to make a perfect night.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to Freeze Pepper & Onions

I don't know about you but I love having peppers and onions on hand for cooking.  Frozen bell peppers and onions are so handy for soups, stews, tacos, casseroles, sauteing, and more and they are so easy to do!  Anytime I find bell peppers on a good sale at the grocery store (or in the summer time, at the farmer's markets) I love to buy a few, dice 'em up, freeze 'em, and keep 'em in the freezer.  Onions, I do the same.  Costco always has sweet yellow onions for pretty cheap and just recently my MIL gave me a few of her homegrown onions.  

This is a pretty hard process so be sure to follow closely.....

Dice your bell peppers and onions.

Spread them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Pop them in the freezer for 2 hours.

Take them out and bag them.

Told you it was hard!

About to go in the freezer

Out of the freezer and into bags

Canning Potatoes

Yesterday was a busy day with laundry, canning, cleaning house.  Man what an exciting day!  It was a gorgeous day out and the dogs enjoyed playing outside for the majority of the day.  I wish I would snapped a few pictures on my camera phone...  Joe was at a dinner meeting so I had some yummy frozen corn dogs for supper.  

Back to the topic.  Last week our local Price Chopper had 10 lb bags of russet potatoes on sale for $1.99!  HOLY COW!  I already had 1 10 lb bag and 1/2 a 5lb bag of golden potatoes and another 1/2 a 10 lb bag of russets in the pantry but I couldn't pass that good of a deal up.  

First thing I did was peel my potatoes.  

Next I diced them up into 1'' pieces and put them in a large dishpan with cold water.

I boiled my pot of water and got my pressure canner ready with 4 inches of water in the bottom of it.

I warmed my jars in the dishwasher on the heat warmer setting and brought my lids and rings to a slight simmer.

Fill your jars with potatoes, add 1/2 tsp of canning salt, and fill with water to the 1/2" headspace line.

Make sure to get your air bubbles out with a non metallic object and wipe the rims of your jars with a damp washcloth.  

Place your lids on your jars, put on your rings, and put jars in your canner.

Process at 10 pounds of pressure for 40 minutes.

Wait til the pressure goes down completely, places your jars on a double folded dish towel, and let rest for 12 to 24 hours.

I did 2 different styles of potatoes, long cut potatoes for french fries and cubes for mashed potatoes.

Once I pull out a jar to use, I'll let y'all know how they cook up!  Otherwise we'll be having lots of mashed potatoes!  I'll be finishing up my potatoes tomorrow by doing slices, more fries, and more cubes!  Hopefully potatoes won't be on my grocery list for a while!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Change is Good

So when I first started this blog, I wanted to make it kind of personal but mostly just about my crafting, canning, cooking, couponing, etc.  But the more I read my favorite blogs that I can connect with , I feel like my readers would connect more with me and my blog topics if I shared with you more of my daily life. (Hope that made sense)  On days that I don't work, I enjoy piddling around in the kitchen, a little bit of crafting, and more piddling around in the kitchen.  I'm always looking for ways to cook more from scratch, preserve food,  and use less processed food.  The blogs I read on a daily basis (you can find them on the right side of this page) continually inspire me and I hope I can do this for y'all from here on out.  I hope to post more and would love to hear about any topics you would love to learn about.

Here's a look at my family and I hope to share more with y'all as the days pass!

My Fiance, Joe, & I

My babies, Boomer (the bigger guy) & Rango

Boomer sporting his doggles