Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Scribble Picnic: Explore

Hi Everyone :)

The Scribble Picnic is back after a summer break! I'm so happy about this, I missed the weekly challenge!  Explore is the theme for today's artwork (follow the link to explore other lovely scribbles!). I'm not sure what's going on in this watercolour...but this gal is definitely on the fence about exploring this possibly haunted house....would you go in? I don't think I would!

Bugs decided to do a little exploring himself and look at that delicious discovery he made! I wonder if his treasure will make it to the museum or not. I tried my best to draw the Indiana Jones may be too big for Bugs though! :)

Fairy Condo: I still spend some time every morning in the woods, exploring the area with the three dogs! I hopefully have a few more months before the weather stops me, so I'm taking full advantage of what the forest has to offer!

My friends on Instagram know all about my potato-obsession of late. This was my first harvest from six containers. Not too bad! I posted this one minute video on IG, but I wanted to share it with my Blogger friends too:

So far the potato count is 212 and I still have 4 sets of tires to go through! Some of them have potato scab...which is okay, just kind of ugly looking. From what I've read, it's because my soil is too acidic. I'll have to correct that next planting season. They are still edible, you just have to peel them.

By The River

Weather Lore From the Farmer's Almanac: 

The Three Days of September (19, 21, and 22) rule the weather for October, November and December. 

Keep an eye on your weather and see if it predicts the next three months! Today started off cold and rainy, but now the sun is out and it's supposed to be a fair I'll be watching for this trend in October. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Making Apple Cider Vinegar, Dairy Day and Feathers!


Food Preservation

Hello Everyone! :)

I hope you're having a great early autumn! Life is still kind of nutty here in the Laurentians. Lots of canning, preserving, garden clean up...and the home cooked pet food really takes up a lot of my time. Trust me, I'm not complaining! All creatures in this home are doing so well! :)

So guess what I've added to the roster? Vinegar making! :) Apple Cider Vinegar to be precise. I made a little 1 minute video to show you:

(Once you click "play", you can click on the You Tube button to view this larger on You Tube)



Not counting the feathers on four of my hats, this is our feather collection. :) The feathers on the right are the turkey feathers that Alex gave me last Christmas.

These are a mix of Crow and Grackle feathers we found around the property and in the woods this past summer.

These are the Blue Jay feathers I found during walks in the woods with the dogs.

Some Turkey feathers we found at the farmer's market.

These are BY FAR our favourites! These are a mix of Turkey, Chicken and Rooster feathers that were given to us by the owner of the farmer's market. Alex cleaned and disinfected them and most of these are now on my hats! :)


Dairy Day

What do you do with soon-to-expire milk? Make Sour Cream, Boursin Cheese, Yogurt and Quick Mozzarella!


Delicious Dinners

Some of the meals we've been eating if I've found time to cook, eek...there have been many pancake dinners lately! :) When you have sour cream, you must make Mexican...these are my Crunchwraps.

What's a week in this home without a pizza? I made a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and ooh boy howdee...this is awesome! :)

To keep things on the healthy side, I made a few spaghetti squash dinners. This one is my Spaghetti Squash Bake with Greek food-inspired ingredients. :)



I'll leave you with some photos of my fur-kids. I love them so much. :) Hoping you are all enjoying life my friends! I'll be by to visit your blogs this weekend! :)

Leo and Dana


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Preparing For Winter and Canning With Rain :)

The Farmer's Almanac winter predictions are out...eegad, "cold, snowy" is not really what I wanted to see for this winter lol...but what else is new here in the mountains of Quebec?? Our first snowfall is usually mid-October. More reason to preserve food so we don't have to go out grocery shopping too much!!!

Alex and I went to that farmer's market last week and it was GREAT. We got 20 pounds of green beans, which took me almost two Jurassic Park's to snap. :) It was quite relaxing actually as I watched the movies! It was a great experience. We met the owner who brought us into the mini-farm and gave us a bunch of feathers! Alex is going to clean them up and we'll use them for our hats. So cool, I'll post a photo of them soon, very colourful from chickens, turkeys and roosters! :) We also scored in their cheese shop and brought home lots of fruits and veggies - all local and freshly harvested. :)

This is the first batch, I managed to get 30 cans of green beans canned and ready for winter! :)

Next on the list was spaghetti sauce. I'd already canned 80 pounds of tomatoes and I got another 60 pounds for the sauce and for salsa.

The most time consuming part of canning tomatoes is skinning them. First they are washed, then scored.

Then dipped into boiling water for less than a minute; dunked back into cold water, then peeled. It's the easiest way to peel them but it's quite a process.

I go the extra mile with the sauces, I chop, core and de-seed them as well - another really long part of the process. My 20 pound box had 96 tomatoes in it and it ended up making 16 cups of chopped tomatoes. 

I quadrupled and tweaked my Tomato Sauce For Pasta recipe (minus the wine) and I was all ready to blend the sauce a little and can it!

The initial investment for canning is steep I must admit, but I'd been saving for this for over a year now...the Mason jars will last a lifetime if I treat them well! I feel as though my investment has pretty much already paid for itself with the money I'll save this winter!

Alex bought me a water bath canner for my birthday a few years ago and I had these handy-dandy tools to go with it. Some women ask for jewelry, I ask for kitchen appliances! :)

I use the canning funnel because it fits the Mason jars perfectly.  You fill the jars according to the recipe you use, in this case, I had to leave a 1-inch head space. The next step is to work out any air bubbles with the second tool that I call the "bubble remover".  This tool is a great gadget because it also has a measuring unit on the bottom so I can measure head space. You wipe your jar and then top it with a round lid and a screw band to "finger tight". I love the magnetic lid lifter! Keeps things sterile!

I bought a Presto 23-quart pressure canner. The instructions say it holds 10 pint jars (20 if you have the extra rack), but I found 8 on each level is cozy enough! The canner did come with a metal rack that is meant to sit on the bottom of the pot. In order to take advantage of being able to can more than 8 jars, you need a second rack to make it a double decker. The second rack DOES NOT come with the canner and I'm happy I saw another video about this, I ordered the second rack at the same time. I got the canner on sale for $121 CAD...which I think is a good price. The second rack however was $24 - highway robbery I tells ya!!! It's a piece of metal with holes in it...but it sure does come in handy. I have to remember this is an INVESTMENT for my frugal future!

So I double decked my spaghetti sauce and began the process! I was nervous at first, but if you read the directions in your manual (a few times) and follow them to a T, you will have success!

I invested in two canning books. I love them both, they are so complete and helpful. They explain very well why you can some things in a water bath canner; and others in a pressure canner (here is a good online resource: Yes You Can: Canning 101). The manual that came with my canner also has a slew of recipes in it.

This is my water bath canner (note: didn't come with the rack either, we had to get it separately). There are a lot of canning recipes out there on the internet, but I wanted to start off with some tried and true tested recipes before I branch off to "winging" my recipes more. I follow a lot of canning blogs and You Tube channels, people can everything it seems!

I made a little video of the canning process, it's about a minute and a half if you want to check it out. :)

This canner has so many safety features and I'm pretty confident about using it, though I still get a little nervous about all the pressure in there! I took this photo after the one-hour canning time was up. A hard part of the process is taking the canner OFF the stove, it's darn heavy. But once it's off the stove, you have to wait for the pressure to drop before opening it. As you can see (about an hour after I removed it from the heat), the pressure gauge is at zero...but the air vent is still popped up, indicating pressure is still in the pot. Once that air vent is down, you take the pressure regulator off the canner, let it sit another 10 minutes, then it's safe to open the lid (away from your face!).

While the veggie spaghetti sauce was processing, I ground up 3 sirloin steaks that I had in the freezer and started the next batch of meat sauce for Alex.

Another great and necessary tool...a jar lifter. Those jars are HOT!!

Here is my first batch! I left them sitting on the counter for a few hours to settle and seal..I love that popping sound they make when the lids are sealing.

So here are more rewards of my efforts of the last few days...22 pints of spaghetti sauce (and one half-pint); and eight jars of salsa that I did yesterday in the water bath canner. Today I'm going to finish water bath canning my nectarines. We are using our front closet as a pantry for as much as we can fit in there, so I'll be organizing that today too. Then I'm doing NOTHING.  💤 💤 💤 

I'll leave you with a photo that I absolutely love! My garden through my office window. It's pouring rain today but the view is awesome. Look at my pumpkins!!! :)