2 Ingredient Canned Carrot

Gleaning season has begun and I now have 5 burlap bags to process. I have several things I plan to make with them, but the simplest one is plain ole canned carrots. I don’t do anything special to them, I prefer to do that when making dinner. This makes canning them easy and cheap. Since I got the carrots for free, and am barely using any salt, the most expensive part is buying the lids for the jars.

The advantages of canning vegetables is that you are saving freeze space for other things. Freezing requires blanching which is simple, but you have to be quick and allow the vegetables to dry to prevent them from freezing together or ice crystals forming on them. I will freeze some to be used when making casseroles for the freezer, but I mainly can them. The last advantage is that if you live in a area where the electricity regularly goes out,ou don’t need to worry about food getting thawed and needing to be tossed,

INGREDIENTS

Carrots

Canning Salt

the big question is, how much carrots do you buy per quart? It takes approximately 17.5 pounds to produce 7 quarts of carrots. A full pot of 9 pints would require approximately 11 pounds. If buying by the bushel, keep in mind that is 50 pounds worth. The average suggested serving size of canned carrots is 1-2 a cup per person.

When preparing fresh carrots I prefer to leave the skins on. I don’t mind the texture and there are a lot of nutrients right under the skin. This means peeling them takes them away. But when it comes to canning I think peeling is a necessity, since this is just my opinion you can leave them on. Just be sure to thoroughly scrub the skin so there is absolutely no trace of dirt on them.

All ready to peel, the only part I hate doing.
All ready to peel, the only part I hate doing.

Once the carrots are peeled I cut into 1/4 inch rounds. You can dice or cube them if you like. That is the beauty of canning, you make it how you like it. Place them into a jar leave 1 1/2 inch head space. The carrots will swell when cooked so if you overfill the jars you won’t have enough liquid or they will end up touching the lid. I add 1 teaspoon canning salt to each quart sized jar, (1/2tsp for pints) but again this is my preference. You can cut it down as much as you want as it isn’t required. When used during cooking salt amplifies flavor so adding it now means I won’t when I prepare them. Many just leave the salt out completely.

If you intend to add the jars to a pot of hot water, the water going into the jars needs to be hot. I tend to do cold packing so I make up jars all day  and have them all processed by the end of the night. This means I can add cold water straight into the jar. If you add cold jars to hot water you risk it shattering. Whichever method you prefer, follow the recommended guidelines for cleaning the jars, lids and rings. Leave 1 inch head space on the jars and be sure to remove all bubbles. Wipe the rims with a wet paper towel, place on the lid with ring and tighten finger tight.

Process pints 25 minutes and quarts for 30 minutes in a pressure canner. Vegetables MUST be done in a pressure canner to ensure they are safely processed. Be sure to use the correct pounds of pressure for your altitude.

I will fit 2 more quarts in here. If doing pints I can put a rack on top and process two layers at one time. Imagine getting 14 jars done at once?
I will fit 2 more quarts in here. If doing pints I can put a rack on top and process two layers at one time. Imagine getting 14 jars done at once?

Allow the canner to vent for 10 minutes before adding the weight, do not remove the weight until the pressure is back down to zero. I let t canner set for 10 minutes before removing the lid and another 15 in the canner to cool. Letting the jars sit in the hot water for a bit helps to prevent water siphoning out. Place in a towel to cool for a full 24 hours before removing the rings. Throughly wipe down the jars and date each of them before placing I the shelf.

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Wasn’t that easy? Now you have carrots with no sugar added and as little salt as needed for your diet or preferences.

Wal Mart Brand canning supplies: JMO

I put a lot of time and effort into what I can. Seem of the food I buy at the grocery store, some from the local frames market. A lot is produce from local gleaning expeditions. Generally I can a couple dozen of most things so that I am not running out in the middle of the year, some so that it lasts two years. This allows me to make certain things less often. This is a big investment for me to feed my family.

Normally I call myself the Queen of Cheap. I save money in every way I can. I believe that most times generic brands are just as good as the name brand. Sometimes, it is the same product produced the same factory. However there ar times when generic is not the way to go.

i purchase a couple cases of quart jars recently along with a few boxes of lids at the local Wal Mart. It only saved me a few dollars but hey, it all adds up. Right? I have regretted it even since.

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The jars are difficult to identify as canning jars, they look like mayonnaise jars. I had to educate the kids to be sure they didn’t throw them away and stored them with the other canning jars after being washed.

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The lids, are a whole other story. Almost every single one crinkles while being processed. This occurs in the waterbath as well as pressure canning. All have flattened out for the most part, but some crinkling remains. I thoroughly check each one to make sure it is sealed before putting it on  no shelf, but I worry that they will stay sealed over time. So I have out them in the front so as to use them first.

It was difficult to get the crinkling to show up in a photograph and much of it flattened out by the time I got this shot. But you can still see it is not perfectly flat like it should be.
It was difficult to get the crinkling to show up in a photograph and much of it flattened out by the time I got this shot. But you can still see it is not perfectly flat like it should be.

Since i purchased these items I have seen similar complaints in the canning groups I am in. Personally I intend to stick with Kerr brand in the future. Let me know your experience with the brand.

Perfect Egg In A Well

Now you may have never heard of an egg in a well because your family calls it something else. There are so many Different names for this simple dish that I  can’t remember them all. They are all the same thing, an egg fried in the middle of a piece of bread. It sound simple enough, but people get these very, very wrong. I have learned a few tips over the years that really make them stand out and consistently cook the same way.

INGREDiENTS

1 slice of bread

1 egg

Butter/margarine

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Powder

To begin, allow the eggs to warm up a bit outside of the fridge. This is a technique restaurants use to get eggs to whip up nice and fluffy or fry up quickly. A good 15 minutes at least but 30 won’t hurt. Yes, this is totally safe on the eggs.

Next choose a pan. This time I did not opt for a nonstick, but you can certainly use one. It cuts down on the butter a little but we are frying here, so you will still need some. The most important thing is use the pan that give consistent heat because eggs need that desperately.

Set the burner to medium.

Use a knife to cut out the middle if the bread. If you make it about the size of the egg while still in the shell it fits perfectly.

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I use about 1 Tablespoon per egg. I begin by letting it melt in the pan just enough to cover. Before it all melts, I add the bread making sure the remaining butter stays in the well.

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Before all the butter melts I crack the egg into the well. This makes sure the bread doesn’t soak it up and get soggy but stays there to fry the egg. Season with a little salt, pepper and garlic powder. Just a sprinkle, no need to measure.

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Once you crack the egg into the centered set a timer. The longer you let it cook the more the yolk will cook. I cook the first side longer because that is when the egg white does the majority of the cooking. If you try to do both sides the same amount of time you tend to have underdone egg whites.

If the pan is looking a little dry, once I have the toast on my spatula ready to flip, I add a little more butter to the pan. It melts quickly so I flip and make sure the egg is right on top of the butter. Again, we are frying here.

Looking from the top is a big clue for when to flip the bread.
Looking from the top is a big clue for when to flip the bread.

You can see in the ohoto above that the longer you cook the first side, the more the egg white is cooked. This means the bottom of the yolk is cooking as well. The time difference doesn’t effect how brown the toast gets as much as you think. Yet another reason for the butter in the pan, it gives a nice golden color.

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Using a timer takes out the guesswork. A 4 minute time produced a soft and fully cooked yolk.  A 3 minute time is slightly runny. Cut it down to 2 1/2 minutes and you will have a fully runny yolk.  This is how my family likes it, a little runny, just enough to dip that round piece of toast in. I prefer a little less cooked, but it is a thing of beauty and a fast breakfast to make. And dare I say, perfect for the kids to learn to make for themselves? Enjoy!

That one minute made a big difference.
That one minute made a big difference.

Why Do I Share Recipes?

I began collecting recipes when I got married. I was determined to become a good cook and to do it on a small budget. Back then it seemed that every recipe required a ton of ingredients, many of which were expensive. The only budget friendly ones I had were those used by my own mother when I was growing up.

Then I discovered Taste of Home magazine. This was a monthly magazine that offered a wide variety of recipes to fit any budget, every skill level and a variety of food options. I was hooked. I began to tweak recipes to what my family liked and didn’t like and discovered that many recipes were better than the original. Today I am known as a good cook, although sometimes I am not sure I deserve that title. I don’t think every meal needs to be fancy, but it is nice to know a few recipes that instantly impress.

For example, Chicken Parmesan is very easy to make but is the perfect date night meal. When I taught my son how to do it his response was “That’s it? That is easy!” I did tell him he can use jarred sauce or homemade, but suggested that he make up a bunch of sauce at once and freeze it so as to always have it on hand. This makes several fast meals possible. Of course he already knew that I have done that for years, but it was a good reminder that he too can plan ahead. That is one thing I really want to show through my recipes, a little planning ahead can make dinner preparation very simple, and dare I say fun?

My kids have grown up learning from me, things which I wish I had known 20+ years ago. My mother was so busy doing what she needed to do in order to raise 4 kids, she didn’t have the time or patience to teach me. While I am still learning, I want to share what I know with others to hopefully be a blessing to you, and so that you can turn around and bless those around you with your skills and knowledge. I hope that I have been able to do that, and if there is something specific you want to learn how to make, please let me know.

For now, enjoy what is here, expect more good things to come and I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog.

Asparagus. Packets

I love this delicate vegetable and spring is the time of year to buy it. This is one of those times when bigger is not better. Look for thin stalks as the thicker it becomes the more woody those stalks are when eaten. You want it flexible but if it flops over when you hold it up, it is old. The head should be closed and should not be cut off and tossed. it is the best part of the whole vegetable. Once you have a bunch selected, it is time to gently cook it.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb Asparagus
1 to 2 tsp Oil
Salt
Pepper
Parchment Paper or Tin Foil 18 inches long

To choose asparagus, you want stalks that don’t flop over. The heads should be closed. The store should hove the cut ends sitting in water to keep the asparagus fresh. Wash the asparagus and cut off the bottom. You want to get rid of the dry, rough bits on the end.

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Rip off a large piece of parchment paper or foil and lay it on the counter. You want to spread the asparagus out so that it is no more than 2 pieces deep. The edges of the foil will be folded up so you need to leave yourself plenty of room. Lay the vegetable on the foil and drizzle enough oil to lightly coat. Personally, I prefer to use olive oil for this, but any lightly flavored oil will do. If you are a Wildtree fan, some of their flavored oils work well. Season with salt and pepper and seal up the packet.

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With the asparagus laying flat on the foil, hold the ends up together. Fold them over and over until you reach the asparagus. Fold the ends over as well. You want a tight seal so that the steam stays inside the packet and cooks the asparagus.

Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are already using the oven for something else and the temperature is lower, that works fine you just need to increase the time by 5 to 10 minutes.You can feel the bottom ends of the asparagus through the foil and see if it feels tender. Do not open the packets it will let all the steam out. Thicker stalks will take more time to cook. Keep the asparagus wrapped in the foil till you are ready to serve as they do cool down quickly.

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Perfectly cooked asparagus that did not boil or steam away all its delicate flavor. Plus you can prepare the packet early in the day and toss it in the oven at the last-minute. If cooking a lot, I do recommend making several packets rather than trying to bake 3 pounds in one.

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These can also be baked on your grill. Make sure you use heavy duty aluminum foil and don’t leave over a direct flame. Let me know how it goes and happy cooking!

Cadbury Mug Cake

Mug cakes are perfect for college life, or when just one person in the house has a hankering for something sweet. This mug cake is not for the faint of heart. I am giving you fair warning, this is a rich, gooey and totally FAB mug cake and it will break every diet out there. I highly reccamend having a glass of milk handy when you dig in. Ready? Here we go!

INGREDIENTS – for each mug

1/4 c room temp Milk

2 Tb melted Butter cooled

1/4 c Flour

2 Tb Cocoa Powder (I prefer Ghiradeli)

2 Tb Sugar

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Vanilla

1 Cadbury Carmel Egg

Just to give you a tease of how yummy this cake is, this is what was left over.

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Milk needs to be room temp to allow the cake to cook quickly in the microwave. Allowing the but to cool a little will keep from curdling the milk. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients making sure to remove all lumps. Combine the milk, butter and vanilla and mix with the dry ingredients.

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Pour the mixture into a mug that holds at least 2 cups of liquid.

I used caramel but they also make peanut butter or there is the classic one too.
I used caramel but they also make peanut butter or there is the classic one too.

Unwrap that egg and gently push it into the cake mix until it is completely submerged.

If it tips over a steak knife can turn it pointing up.
If it tips over a steak knife can turn it pointing up.

Bake in the microwave for 60 seconds on high. Using a steak knife, check to make sure the cake if cooked all the way

to the bottom. If not, cook another 30 seconds.

We made two tonight.
We made two tonight.

Now how comes the best part, eating it! I use a teaspoon so I can get all the way to the bottom. Sometimes the gooeyness sinks so you may have to go digging for it,

Just hitting the top layer of yumminess
Just hitting the top layer of yumminess

Believe me when I say,not a is a decadent treat, but you will be ever so happy you tried it!

Look at all that chocolate and caramel!
Look at all that chocolate and caramel!

If you have some handy a little whipped cream on top would be nice. And that my friends is a mug cake you can be proud of.

Homemade Lip Scrub

Have you ever walked down the beauty aisle and wondered why some things cost so much and if you could make it yourself? There are many things that can easily be made at home and do a wonderful job. Lip scrubs is one such item.

The purpose of a lip scrub is simply to exfoliate off dead skin cells and leave the lips nice and soft. Not only will this help prevent cracked lips, it makes them look beautiful all the time. So here is my simple recipe that you probably haVe all the ingredients for already.

INGREDIENTS

1 TB Brown Sugar

2 tsp Olive Oil (can substitute coconut oil)

1/2 tsp Honey

2 drops Lemon Essential Oil (optional)

Brown Sugar is simply a sweet way to exfoliate the lips and it will dissolve when washed off.

Honey is a natural moisturizer and raw honey has antibacterial properties.

Olive oil has antioxidants and easily penetrates the top layers of the skin.

Lemon Oil has antiseptic and astringent qualities.

Any brand will do, I typically use Simply Aroma.
Any brand will do, I typically use Simply Aroma.

One of the neat things about this recipe is that it tastes yummy so you won’t mind if a little gets into your mouth, it can be increased exponentially as needed. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and blend together.

It you don't want it so dry just add a little extra honey.
It you don’t want it so dry just add a little extra honey.

To store, place in a clean container and seal. Because this only takes a few seconds to make I only make small batches. This way I don’t have to worry about it going bad.

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To apply, use a scoop to remove about a teaspoon worth and apply to your lips. I like a scoop such as a Popsicle stick because it ensures that I keep he contents clean. Gently rub it around your lips and remove with a wet cloth.

Pucker up!
Pucker up!

You will immediately notice a difference as old skin is gone, but the next day when your ingredients have had a chance to work they will be softer. This means your lip stains or lipsticks will look even better. So pucker up my beauties!