Sunday, February 22, 2015

Daily Doin's, Third Week of February

This is Sunday morning, it's snowing today.  Not heavily, and I don't think we'll get much accumulation.  I'm not complaining.  But I don't like snow.  Go out and make your snowmen and snow angels and what have you, if that's your thing.  I'll be in the kitchen making applesauce cake.

Snow makes me want to bake.

I made three because it just kinda worked out that way.  I was only going to double the recipe, but then about middle of the project I realized I had just enough shortening and applesauce in the containers for a third and enough of all the other ingredients to carry it off.  What's the point of refreezing a cup of applesauce and leaving 1/2 cup of shortening in the container, I ask you, when you're in the middle of the project anyhoo? 

The recipe is in a post I did almost a year ago, if you want it, it's HERE.

That got me digging around in the freezer, because you know I had to find the applesauce, and I found a bunch of other things that gave me ideas for meals in the days ahead.  I've got some steak out for supper tonight.  Then there are some containers of turkey broth and a bag of deboned turkey from when I "rotisseried" in my electric roaster around Christmas-time.  I've been kind of hungry for chicken and dumplings, so that will be another meal.  Then I also found half a meat sauce recipe for spaghetti, and we haven't have that in awhile.  So there will be three meals made and countless containers removed from the freezer.   The making of the applesauce bread emptied two containers of that applesauce I made from Leroy and Sherry's green apples, before I caught on to the idea of making juice out of them.  And yeah, Hubs has really been enjoying that apple juice and just about has it all used up.  We'll have to go buy orange juice before much longer. 

I was watching some program on TV that was explaining about orange juice and all the forms it's sold in, and it was quite interesting.  It seems they process the juice and store it away for months and months and when you buy "fresh frozen" or "fresh squeezed" juice, that just means that it was "fresh" when it was first "frozen" or "squeezed".  Most of the bottled orange juice you get is not 100% juice.  It contains added water, sugar, and artificial flavorings.  Usually it's made from their stock of frozen concentrate.  You come closer to getting real juice if you buy the frozen concentrate and mix it with water yourself.  Anything closer than that, you have to buy oranges and juice them yourself.  And that lower calorie juice?  Just has more water and artificial stuff in it.

Most kids and lots of adults are crazy about Sunny Delight and here's somebody's rendition of how you can make a clone of it yourself.  I've had Sunny Delight and it kind of reminds me of Tang.  Do they still make that?  I haven't this recipe, it's been in my "Recipes To Try" folder for such a long time I don't even know where I found it.  It figures that it's got a whole cup of corn syrup in it.  Seems like kids don't like anything unless it's full of sugar / corn syrup.  If I ever make it I might leave out the corn syrup entirely.  And I might leave out the Kool-Aid, too, I don't know. 

Homemade Sunny Delight
6 C. Water
1 C. corn syrup
1 1/3 C frozen orange tangerine juice concentrate
6 Tbsp. frozen concentrated apple juice
2 Tbsp frozen limeade concentrate
4 tsp. frozen grapefruit juice concentrate
1 tsp. Kool-Aid lemonade unsweetened powder

And of course if you're fond of Jell-O, you know you can make it a lot cheaper by using Kool-Aid powder, sugar, and unflavored gelatin, right?  Yeah, I know it's sugar and artificial flavorings, but that's what's in Jell-O too.  At least you could sub in some real juice instead of the water and sugar if you wanted to.   I think the measurements are 2 Tbsp of unflavored gelatin (bought in bulk, it's really cheap), mixed with 1 c. sugar.  Pour in two cups boiling water while stirring.  Stir till dissolved, then add two cups cold water.   Or if you make it with juice, mix the gelatin in about 2 Tbsp of sugar, add a cup of boiling water, stir till sugar and gelatin are melted in, then add three cups of cold juice.  You mix the sugar with the gelatin so it won't blob up when the hot water hits it.  Otherwise you'll have to soak it in a little cool water first and I've never had very good results with that.

Another thing I found while digging in the freezer was those containers of cucumber juice I froze last summer.  I had a little hiatus between May and November last year due to computer issues, and so I guess I didn't post about the great crop of cucumbers I had.  I must've planted 20 seed or so, in a circle of about two feet across, planning to fasten down a big tomato cage and letting the plants climb all over that.  The seeds germinated well and the plants were eventually grown past the top of the tomato cage and cascading down onto the ground.  I had enough fruit from the vine to satisfy my needs.  I ate them dipped in ranch dressing, and in green salads.  I made several batches of Bread and Butter Pickles and of Sweet Pickles, and some relish, which was called Fish Fry Relish.  I've been sharing the jars of Bread and Butters with Joe and Cathy across the road, as I know how they love them.  Once I'd made all the pickles I wanted to, I then started giving big bags of cucumbers to any of my neighbors who would take some, till they told me they'd had all they could use.  So then I had cucumbers still coming on that I really had no use for. 

I found a site that suggested juicing them, and I did that and found that the juice tasted like watermelon.  And then I began to wonder how the juice would freeze.  I don't have a juicer, so I just chopped the cucumbers finely in the food processor, poured it into a wire mesh colander, put the solids in the compost and packed the juice in pint containers in the freezer.    

Recently I thawed out a pint of the juice and drank it.  I don't remember if I peeled the cucumbers first, but I think I might not have, because there were some dark green solids on the bottom.  First taste was without stirring, and it was still watermeloney and I felt like it was a nice morning juice drink.  But after stirring, it was bitter.  So if you grow a lot of cucumbers and decide to save them for winter in the form of frozen juice, do discard the peel beforehand.  It would be good mixed with other juices and I just have a feeling that cucumber juice and also watermelon juice are the "vegetable juices" in those fruit-flavored juices that V-8 is marketing now.   In fact, HERE is a "cooler" recipe on AllRecipes that includes cucumber.  HERE is one that is cucumber and lime.  I'm thinking next time, instead of throwing the solids in the compost, I might use the solids for this cucumber salad instead of the sliced cucumber it calls for, make it kind of a "relish" consistency, eat it fresh as a salad, or as a salad dressing on greens or for Danish Potato Salad. 
Cukes & Onions in Sour Cream

1/2 C. sour cream
1/2 C. mayonnaise
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic and fresh dill weed, or to taste
1/2 tsp. celery seed, salt and pepper, or to taste
1 sweet red or white onion, sliced, separated into rings
1 large cucumber, peeled and thickly sliced

Mix all ingredients together and chill in refrigerator.

Or maybe the solids would be fine for making relish with, since the recipe always calls for salting and draining the bejeezers out of the pulp, anyway.....

The variety of cucumber that I grow is called "Burpless Muncher" or "WI-5207".  If it doesn't get pollinated it'll still make cukes.  They just won't have filled-out seed inside.  To save seed you have to just stay alert for one that has nice plump seeds and sometimes once they are dry they look pretty flat and aren't any good.  I have tried lots of other varieties, including "Homemade Pickles", "Snow's Pickling Cucumber" and a strange, hedgehog-shaped "Gherkin" pickle, but Muncher is my cucumber of choice, both for pickling and munching.
These are quart jars.

And now, also for juicing.

I have also been enjoying little harvests from the plants I have growing under the lights in the garage.  The garage is not heated but it's attached to the house and so it doesn't get down to freezing in there.  It's a good place to keep the extra plant light and the cool-weather things have been growing out there just fine.

This is a half-gallon jar.

I checked on my spinach and kale that I planted out in the garden before the last cold spell, and they are still alive.  If they don't make it I have more plants that I can put in their place.  

Hubs and I had a busy day yesterday.  We worked on the fireplace a little bit.  Then about noon our grandson JR, not the one that lived with us for so long (that was JC), but the one that is married and has our little GGD, offered to come over and help us put down our flooring.  JR learns quickly and before we knew it he was the one making the trek out to the workshop to cut the pieces we needed for the ends.  That shifted our tasks a little, and enabled me to unpack the flooring, trim the ends and lay it out.  It was all I could do to keep a little ahead of them. We are now about four rows from being done.  We had to stop because Hubs got tired and started making mistakes and I was tired too.  Otherwise JR would've probably stayed till the job was done.  He said he was tired, too, though.  It was so nice to have help.  JR is a good worker and I'm so very proud of the man he has become.   He turned 24 last November, Our Little Thanksgiving Turkey, born on Thanksgiving Day.

This morning we had bacon and eggs, using some of the bacon we got on sale at the grocery a few weeks back.  Here's how I store my bacon:
I remember when bacon didn't go bad in the refrigerator for a long time.  Now it doesn't take any time at all.  So when I open the package, I make these little bundles and freeze them.  Then it's easy to take out whatever you need, whenever you want to.

We are having a little bit of one of God's miracles and I have hesitated to say anything because I wasn't sure it was going to last.  We've been down this road so many times before.  But Hubs has been using his vapor cigarette and hasn't had a real cigarette since December 14.  He says he still misses a smoke sometimes, but he feels better and that is kind of obvious to me.  We know there are harmful things in that vapor, but there are twice as many in a regular cigarette.  An added advantage is that if he just wants a few puffs, he can have just what he wants without anything being wasted.  There's no mess, no stink, and it costs less.  He made this decision all on his own after trying the vapor cigarette and rejecting it at first.  I didn't even know he wasn't smoking anymore till I noticed he wasn't going in and out the patio door.  He says it's really nice to be able to see his TV show all the way through, and nice not to have to go outside to smoke.  He tells me he intends to get to the point where he doesn't use the vapor cigarette, either.  So keep Hubs in your prayers.  I'm grateful for his progress, and I'm grateful for Paula and how she answered all our questions and helped us to feel like this might be a safer option for him.  I think JR has quit smoking, too.  He told me he was trying and he didn't go out to smoke all the time that he was here yesterday.  It's so bad for him and bad for his little girl to be around.

This gets you updated on what we have been doing the last few days.  We always get sick of being cold along about this time of year, but considering what some people are having to put up with, it seems rude, crude and obscene to complain about our weather.   Spring will be here soon....

Rock on...  xoxoxo


  1. I am happy to hear Hubs is trying to quit smoking. Our son and his SO are using the vapor cigarettes too. Hopefully everyone will be able to stop everything eventually. Max was just diagnosed with emphysema and has 50% lung capacity!!!!! Pass this info along.

    Where did you get those wonderful labels? Labeling is my weakness. Sometimes I even forget to mark on the jar lids.

    The breads look very tasty.

  2. Glenda, I make those labels myself, on my computer, choosing different font styles and sizes. There are several ways to do it. In OpenOffice, choose File > New > Labels. You can then choose from any of their formats for pre-made labels (Avery, etc.). Or you can use the Table function and make your own labels. And/Or you can use the Draw function. The borders come from the Border function. Or sometimes I just make myself a strip across a Landscape OR a Portrait page, use Draw to put a border around and tweak it however I want, cut the strips and tape them on the jars. I always save so I can easily just change the printing on the label. I could email you some already made if it would help, you might have different fonts than I but OpenOffice sometimes will choose one that it has that is close to the one that was originally in the document. If not you can do so manually. Shoot me an e-mail if you want some examples....


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