Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Accidental Canner

Vegetables from the fridge that needed to be dealt with

our new "older" chickens

Our first unbroken eggs

"Souper Mix" with beets

Becoming sauce

    So I find sometimes I feel like the accidental canner. Friends will say how do you have time to can and sometimes I really don't but when you need to prepare for winter and have all this extra produce taking up spacing and starting to go bad because we can't use it fast enough then it is time to can whether I have time or not. Canning is a commitment and sometimes you don't always feel like doing it. It is one of the most satisfying tasks I do though. Seeing all those jars lined up makes me very happy. As we perfect our recipes over the years we know they are yummy and worth waiting till winter to enjoy them. I find when I am in this situation that unloading the fridge, lining up the baskets, and spreading it all out before me is the best way to see what and how much I am dealing with. A few things we always like to can like tomato sauce and pickles get done when we have a huge amount of produce. We do have one crock pot full of sauce cooking as I write this and I may have enough to do two more pots worth. I will get maybe 9-10 quarts of sauce from that. We will do apple sauce and pie filling that way as well. At the moment there is no exhaust in my kitchen which makes canning on humid or hot days not very nice. So until we either put in an exhaust fan or make an outdoor processing kitchen(this is the way we will go in the future so we can process meat as well.)
    So this year so far we have canned 6 jars pesto, 5 jars "Souper Mix"(with beets and red peppers), 3 quarts beef stock, 6 quarts beans, and 6 quarts chopped tomatoes. Nothing to brag about but not bad for getting settled into our old farmhouse. At the moment I am waiting for the basement cement to finish curing so we can set-up our shelves for canned items and winter produce. Today we will can Onion and Maple Conserve and tomorrow Pecan Apple Conserve. These are small batch items that need only a few minutes to process.
    We are also enjoying the beautiful chickens friends have given to us this past week. They are older girls but a few are still laying. I like that they eat my kitchen scraps and produce manure for my garden.... something it is going to need a lot of next year.
    Lastly if you find yourself with way to many zucchini or summer squash this year you can puree it to use in meat loaf, zucchini bread or chocolate cup cakes. We also found this recipe is a new favorite.

Zucchini Parmesan Bake
2 lbs. ground meat (we use lamb or beef)
2 T. butter and 2T. olive oil
1 cup sliced onions
3 garlic cloves crushed
italian seasoning
1 zucchini, 1 summer squash and 2-3 potatoes all sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 c. parmesan cheese
In a skillet sauté butter, olive oil, onions and garlic till just starting to brown. Spread those out in bottom of pan. Brown ground meat in pan without cleaning it out. Then add to onion/garlic mix in baking dish, sprinkle generously with italian seasoning and mix together. Layer the sliced zucchini, potato and squash on top of meat mixture. Sprinkle top with more italian seasoning and parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered. 

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