Crossing the Canning Border

Apple Juice.JPG

Quarts of Apple Goodness

 

I think this week I finally crossed the border from “canning the produce season” into “using the canned goods season”. I finally dealt with the cooler full of apples that has been standing by my kitchen counter for the last two weeks. My excuse for procrastinating was they (the apples) looked like they needed a little more ripening……I am sticking with that excuse.

I really do like the season of harvesting the garden produce and preserving it for use in the coming year.  It always seems like somewhat of a race to beat the weather, the bugs, the heat, the “girls” (my chickens, for those of you who are first time visitors here), and the voles that seem to love burrowing in my garden and eating the things like potatoes and carrots.

Today I finished those apples and turned them into beautiful quarts of apple juice. I always need to be sure to have juice on hand for when my grandbabies come. It is one of their favorite things about coming to the Chicken Grandma’s house. (it ranks right behind chasing chickens, picking up rocks, throwing rocks, taking a bath in the big claw-foot tub, having tea parties and following Grandpa around).

As I washed those canned jars of juice it occurred to me that once again I would be needing to move a few things around in my pantry. I headed over that way and moved empty jars (yes I still have some) around to make room for the full jars. Pamela at BeeOrganizedWithPamela would be so proud of me for re-organizing the pantry!!

In moving things around I made a disturbing discovery.  There were “signs” that a small gray furry critter decided to cross the border from outside and come on in. I am not sure why this critter decided it was time to change his address and go house hunting.  Perhaps because we had frost on the ground this morning?

I am not sure why the event of the mouse migration always takes me by surprise. We do live in an old farmhouse.  Any small crack in the foundation is pretty much an entrance gate for mice with an invisible sign over – “Come on in and make yourself at home.” This seems to be an annual event.

It will definitely be time to put my husband’s trapping skills to work. I have given up trapping these invaders myself as I am quite sure they gain weight when I put out traps. For some reason my traps tend to turn into peanut butter self-feeders for rodents. Last year when we had this same issue I am pretty sure we ended up with obese mice roaming the pantry….until my husband took over the job. It made me wonder how large one could actually get?

I told my husband it is definitely job security for him. His comeback comment, “Well I am good for something…..trapping mice, killing spiders and opening pickle jars.”  He actually is really good at those tasks.  He laughs when he says this and so do I.

For those of you who would like to try canning

Apple Peels and Cores.JPG

Peels and Cores

apple juice I have included the recipe below.
I tend to use the peels and cores from the apples
and use the rest of the apple for applesauce or
apple pie filling.  That way I get the most out of
my apples.  I hate to see anything go to waste! When I am done with the peels and cores they go to the girls. They love to finish off whatever is left.

 

 

 

Canned Apple Juice
Apples
Cream of Tartar
Water
White Sugar
Wash apples before beginning.
Cut whole apples into thin slices, or use the peels and cores from apple baking
or apple canning projects.
Red apples peels will add a lovely pink color to the juice.
Measure the amount of apple pieces and put them into a large crock, plastic, or stainless steel container. Do
not use aluminum or porous metal as it will give a metallic taste.
Bring to a boil an equal amount of water.
Add 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar for each quart of boiling water.
Stir and pour  over the apple pieces.
Cover and let stand for 24 hours.
Pour juice off the apple pieces into a large container, squeezing pieces in a cheesecloth.
Measure juice into a heavy cooking pot.
Add 3/4 cup white sugar for every 2 quarts of juice.
Bring juice to a boil.
Pour into jars and process in hot water bath for 25 minutes for quarts.

For now the shelves are clean, stocked and ready for the “eat the canned produce season”. There is only one small problem. I still do have some empty jars…….I wonder if I can get my hands on one or two more 5 gallon buckets of apples?

And she prepares for herself her bread from the summer
and she stores her food at harvest.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English

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Trees I Have Known

Black Hills, SD

The Black Hills, SD

I noticed that today the Daily Post had the word trees for their word prompt. This was a word prompt I thought I could actually write about.  I am not sure what it is about trees that is so fascinating but I really like…..no, I love trees.

I have discovered that through the years I have taken a lot of pictures of trees. Pictures of trees that are healthy and growing, pictures of trees that are in full leaf, pictures of trees that are majestic in all their twisted glory, pictures of trees as they aged, and pictures of trees from many angles.

Kansas Tree.JPG

I am wondering if my love of trees started as a kid. I loved reading books and sitting up in the branches of a tree seemed the perfect place to read a book……actually anywhere is probably the perfect place to read a book, but I digress.

My folks had two beautiful sugar maples in their front yard that had branches that were great for climbing. My siblings and I spent a lot of time sitting among the leaves. It did not seem too many years later and our kids were climbing those same trees. I am wondering how long before my grandkids decide to climb the one sugar maple that still stands in  my parent’s front yard.

My sons like to remember the tree house they built as kids. They positioned it between the round metal corn crib and a huge old elm tree that grew behind the grove; that made up our back yard. They scrounged around for nails, boards and anything else they could find for construction purposes. It got to the point that my husband painted his own tools yellow and another set red. The boys were allowed to only have the red tools…..if they were caught with yellow ones there was some trouble. The red tools consisted of hammers with broken off handles that my husband had repaired. They were kid sized with about 5 inch handles.

By the time we ventured out back to go check on the progress of this tree house (on the advice of their grandparents) it consisted of multiple platforms. To reach these platforms they had nailed 1″ x 4″ boards with many…..many short shingle nails. At most there was probably 1/2″ of nail that was biting into the bark to hold the board on the tree.  I think their theory might have been; if they had to use short nails……just use more. Theirs was definitely a quantity over quality mentality.  When a board fell off it kind of resembled a porcupine with all those nails sticking out.

After seeing that their top platform had reached the top of the corncrib it was strongly suggested (ordered) that they remove the top platform. I can still remember them mumbling under their breath that they should not have shown the grandparents their tree house. Unfortunately, I never took any pictures of this wondrous tree house. I have a feeling that was in the time frame that we did not have a working camera.

Many of my favorite pictures of trees are ones I have taken while on vacation. The trees at Gooseberry Falls State Park in Minnesota are beautiful due to time and weather twisting them into works of natural art.

There is a beauty in the twisted trunks, the exposed, sun-bleached roots and the tenacity in which these trees cling to life. How they manage to survive growing on what looks like rock is beyond me. They have survived generations of tourists who come to marvel at the landscape and will probably stand for many more.

Trees are a testament to life and a witness to us that if we hang on tight, are firmly rooted and don’t mind being a little twisted we will get through this life. We maybe won’t be in the same shape as when we started….in fact I am very sure we will not stay the same. I am, however, convinced that if we hang on and persevere, we too, will be a testament and witness to those around us and to those who come after.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

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Nothing Says Love Like Chicken Pictures On Your Fridge….

Birthday Chickens.JPG

This past weekend our kids and grandkids came to visit. There is not much that is better than having a 5 year old grandson come running through your doorway and launching himself into your lap before you even have a chance to get out of your chair and open the door. Having his little sister trailing behind him wearing her “Wunner Woman” crown. (That crown was an amazing treasure from a happy meal!) just made it better yet.

The two grandkids were excited to give me birthday cards that they had colored for me. My daughter-in-law told me the kids had decided that the chicken pictures would be the most appreciated by their Chicken Grandma…..and they were right!  My fridge sports a variety of grandkid artwork and I love when I get a new one to add to the collection.

My granddaughter decided we really needed to enjoy a tea party picnic the night that they arrived. It was a fine idea.  We put a blanket down in the frontroom and let her set it up.  She proceeded to set out the dishes, had her brother pour the tea (water), hand out the crackers that Grandpa found for her, and topped it off with an offering of her leftover happy meal French fries…..very tiny bits of leftover fries. She was very serious when she handed those fries out with the words, “One for you……one for you….one for you”.  (Grandpa nearly choked on his tea (water) trying to hold the laughter in…..he did survive and he did not spit any out or have any come out of his nose.)

 

While the kids were here my son and husband did do some work. They built the nicest set of steps in our garage. For years all we had was a “rinky-dink” set of steps to get in and out of our house. We now have a really great landing and steps that we should be able to navigate for many, many years. (My husband’s plan is to set this house up so there is never ANY excuse to put him in a nursing home!)

While they were constructing the landing and steps; my grandson decided he should also make something for me. I was presented with an incredible piece of art. I am still searching for just the right place to display this wonderful piece. It is solid and sturdy due to the screw my son helped put through it and it should last for years. My husband did not think I would keep this beautiful piece but I assured him I had every intention of displaying it……..somewhere.

Grandkid Art.JPG

My son also helped my husband bale the waterway for the last time this year. (I was deeply grateful for that!)  I surprised my grandson with the fact that his Chicken Grandma did indeed know how to drive a tractor. After one round in the waterway my job was done and my son and husband finished the rest.

While they were finishing that job up; my daughter-in-law, the grandkids and I headed for town to visit with the Great Grandparents. I have a feeling I could have stayed home and those great grandparents would have been just as happy with their visitors! There is something about having those little ones around that brings a lot of joy.

We finished off the day with a quick trip to the little park across the road from my folks’ house. It took a lot of persuading to  get those two little kids back in the vehicle when it was time to head for home.

playing-at-the-park

It is such a blessing to see life through the eyes of grandkids. They find adventure in every corner they look. Nothing is impossible to accomplish when you think like an almost 3 year old and a 5 year old. Life is exciting, the possibilities are endless, trusting comes easy and the joy is contagious. Maybe that is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 19:14.

May we all have the joy of children and the wisdom of years. Let us grow old without entirely growing up. It seems like a worthy goal to me.

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt