Plastic.We need it, can’t live without it. But, Let’s Get Real!

I am trying very hard to reduce my use of plastic. Living in the country, you’d think this wouldn’t be on my radar, I mean, how much plastic could I have to be bothered about?  You’d be surprised at the amount of plastic pollution in our bushes (forests), ditches, creeks, fields and so on.  I had a major plastic pick up all along our farm fence line and bush line and it would not fit on my wagon or wheel-barrel.  My husband had to go alone with the tractor and scoop up my piles.

As, any of you know who check out my blog know, I am a rabid whole food scratch cooker. I also believe that we should try very hard to eliminate plastic bags and containers that especially have wet especially warm wet foods sit in them, unfrozen.  The leeching that goes on is frightening, even if the plastic product has a  BPA ban, there are 4000 potentially harmful chemicals in plastic.  Some products have had BPA banned but not all.  BPA mimics estrogen and is dangerous for girls and especially damaging to boys.

So, here is my conundrum.  I do like plastic bags to freeze food in. I like the air tight seal they give to keep crystals and freezer burn from my foods.  So, I am trying to use them, but make it as safe as possible. Hard frozen foods before placing into a freezer bag cannot take in chemicals from the bag, so all of my veggies, I freeze first on cookie trays then vac-pac or put in regular freezer bags.  I’ve tried glass containers but find they let the food get crystals and freezer burn very easily.

I also reuse my freezer bags, over and over.  Do you like money?  Think about this, a large freezer bags is 15 cents.  I can wash in soapy water with a hint of chlorine, rinse and dry three bags in one minute.  The math works out to 45 cents per minute or $27 dollars per hour.  Tax free.  That’s also three bags that do not need to be made, trucked, boxed and potentially end up in a landfill.  When the seals no longer work, or I’ve had a product like raw chicken in them, then I rinse them and put them in my recycling.

To the guy who invents a reusable vacuum seal bag…I’ll take a case please.

I’ll never live plastic free but I’m trying to do my part.

I am stopping use of pump hand soaps. I am shocked at how fast we go through these.  A bar of soap gets your hands just as clean, smells as nice and lasts longer and is half the price.

I am stopping use of shower gels.  Again, each person can have their favourite brand of soup in a bar, have their own bar and it lasts just twice as long and half the price.

Plastic shower scrunchies.  They fall apart go straight to a landfill.  There are natural scrubs you can get, I have one now that do twice the job, last longer and is totally biodegradable.  I’ll never buy another plastic scrunchies again.

I might buy 10 cans of commercial goods a year, all my veggies  and sauces are in glass jars home canned.

Water bottles…no brainer here.  Totally unnecessary.  No reason for them. At all.  Ever.

I was inspired to write this non-foodie post in celebration of the tough plastic laws the EU has introduced.  I hope they stay strong with this and follow through, and I hope Canada follows their lead.  I have some great reading links here for you if you are interested.  I really believe this is something we must do for this earth we owe so much to and all the generations to come. The first link is about the EU’s new rules and laws and the second link is letting you know scientifically just how many chemicals are in plastic and what they do.

Thank you for stopping by.

https://environmentaldefence.ca/2018/10/26/eu-plastics-ban/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080130092108.htm

Fancy Molasses

Just a quick post.  I want to talk about molasses.  I know ‘sugar’ gets a bad rap, but did you know there are aspects of ‘sugar’ that are good for you?  Besides good solid energy.

It’s true.  Let’s take a moment to look at molasses.  Molasses is made from cane sugar.  Not a man made substitute but it is actually a whole food.

One tablespoon of molasses a day gives you 5% of your daily need i potassium, 2% of your needed daily calcium, 4% of your daily needs in iron and 5% of the carbs you NEED to survive.  (yes you do need carbs for your heart to beat and your brain to work).

Did you know that brown sugar is actually normal sugar and molasses?  The darkness of the brown sugar depends on how much molasses is put in.

I use pure organic cane sugar at home.  And honey, we are big on honey.  All of my bread is made with pure Ontario Posch honey. Which is the closest you can get for pure organic honey.

So, rethink your sweets.  Stay clean, stay whole and ENJOY!!! Thank you for dropping by…always appreciated.  Leasa

 

fancy molasses

 

Home Stretch…

Today I washed and labeled the near end of this season’s preserves. Tomorrow I’ll do a few jars of mint jelly and in about a week I’ll catch up with my broths, chicken and beef.  For now, I will concentrate on getting caught up with my company books and household chores.  I also want to paint the rec room.

I am happy that Peter has decided to build me a pantry on the main floor so I won’t have to precariously carry all these jars down those stairs.

I have taken inventory of my stock downstairs and here’s what it looks like; Tomato sauce 5 quarts and 24 pints. Tomato juice 3 quarts and 1 pint, whole tomatoes 5, 1.5 quart jars, crushed tomatoes 51 quarts and  1 pint, salsa 25 250 ml jars, pasta sauce with meat 18 pints, vegetable soup 16 pints, 3 pizza sauces (2017), corn 68 pints, green beans 55 pints, sweet pickles 18 pints, beans tomato sauce 6 pints, chick peas 6 pints, sandwich slicer pickles 5 pints, bread and butter pickles 10 pints (2017), chili con carne 4 pints, onion soup 7 quarts, dill pickles 24 quarts, beef broth 4 quarts, pickle beets 5 pints, reg. beets 3 pints, chicken soup 10 pints, mushrooms 13 half pints, navy beans 11 pints, salmon 8 250 ml, roast peppers 7 pints (2017), green relish 5 250 ml, zucchini relish 8 pints, pinto beans 3 pints, jams various kinds 28 250 ml, dilly beans (2017) 3 pints, peaches 10 pints (2017).  And we’ve been eating from the garden since June. Then there’s my freezers….haha

So worth it.  So very worth it. NO PESTICIDES and grown with love. ❤

 

MUSHROOMS!

I love mushrooms.  I add them to stir fries, sauces, as a side dish or make creamy dreamy mushroom soup.  I know I’ve probably done a post in the past on mushrooms…but my, aren’t they worth two?

I find it frustrating while making a sauce or planning a dish that needs mushrooms only to find out the ones you have, have turned or you are simply out.  That’s why I try to keep some jars home canned.  250 ml jars, pressure canned, 10 lbs pressure, 45 minutes. (Bernardin)

I still buy fresh, but have my trusty jars on hand just in case.  I manage to go through these fairly quickly.  They were on sale, .98 cents for half pound of very fresh mushrooms.  I processed 8 pounds!

Ingredients: water, mushrooms.

If you ever decide to pressure can, send me a note and I’ll try to help you through the first time jitters!

Thanks for visiting, Leasa

Canning Season Winding Down

This year’s garden was a huge success!  I lost track of how many tomatoes I’ve processed this year.  I’m guessing at least 800 pounds.  The paste tomatoes were so meaty, that I turned them all into a sauce that I let simmer down over night.  You go through a lot this way, but the sauce is so very versatile. Open a jar add onion powder, pepper, salt, sugar, garlic powder, cook it down a bit more and you have ketchup.  Or add garlic powder, sugar or honey and some oregano and you have an awesome pizza sauce.  Use it in your spaghetti sauces, soups, stews, as a baking sauce, anything goes.  That is why I stopped processing tomato sauces for ‘just one thing’ and leave it as a blank slate for winter cooking.

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I run two pressure canners and two water bath canners as needed.  My only wish is that I had a larger stove.  Well I make it work with an extra hot plate on the side.  I follow only tested safe recipes and use common sense.  The following pictures capture some of this year’s bounty:

I think my pantry has well over 600 jars of fresh goodness from the garden.  I haven’t done a final count.  Tomorrow is mint jelly day.

Thank you for visiting.

Chili Con Carne home canned!

Hello everyone!

I know I have not been posting enough lately and for that I do apologize.  I hope in the meantime you’ve found some inspiration through my many cooking adventures here.

Today I wanted to share a bit of my love of home canning.  Every year we grow a large garden and I stay extremely busy either freezing or canning that garden.  Even though it’s more work, I love a good home canned product.  Right from the onset though, I would strongly advise that all home canned goods should be from tested approved recipes where you will find them either from Bernardin, Ball or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  All three are easily found on line.  Ball and Bernardin are one and the same (Bernardin is the Canadian branch of Ball) and they have some excellent book available to buy.

Home canning like our grandmothers did, are not safe methods and today we know better.  Not only is botulism a huge risk but other bacterial and viral illnesses are as well.  You might say my great granny never killed anyone, but we can’t know that for certain as many illnesses that cause death are in fact food borne.  This is something I see as fact and do not debate.

If you are interested in safe home canning, you might like to check out a face book page called Safe Canning by the Book on Debbie’s Back Porch.  There are others, but please don’t go to any rebel groups or groups that never use safety practices no matter what they say.  Imagine your child or loved one with 10 days of diarrhea…

Anyway, here is my latest canning fun:

 

chili con carne

Chili con carne from the national Center for home food preservation
http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_05/chili_con_carne.html . We absolutely love this recipe! One thing you’ve got to try, make your favorite macaroni and cheese and gently stir a jar of this in, heat through and you will not believe the flavor! It’s like where have you been all my life?

I’ve doubled the recipe which gave me 17.5 pints (500 ml) jars.

Hope you enjoyed this and thank you for visiting!  ~Leasa

Footnote: even if you don’t can it, try the mac and cheese idea with any chili con carne!  A fabulous taste sensation!

Beef Rouladen

This is the time of year for dishes like beef rouladen.  Time to spend in the kitchen, time to make your house smell like home.  This dish is not spicy, never meant to be but, having said that, if you are used to a lot of spice you can always jazz this up to suit your taste!  I posted this and got approved on Allrecipes so therefore I will simply provide that link.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  Thank you for visiting my page. If it doesn’t open from here, simply copy and paste.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/236037/ontario-beef-rouladen/?internalSource=hub%20recipe&referringContentType=search%20results&clickId=cardslot%203

 

Fall is coming, School is About to Open. It’s SLOW COOKER Season!!

We’ve had some glorious cooler weather here in Southern Ontario and being so busy trying to bring the garden in, freezing, canning I took the opportunity to warm up the slow cooker!  What a delightful tool for the busy households that want to maintain a healthy diet.

When we got home from a business meeting yesterday, the wonderful fragrance of this hit us when we opened the door:

 

beef stew

This was without a doubt the best most delicious tender beef stew possible.  (no bias here, eh?)  Of course we used my home made bread to sop it up.

Recipe (adjust volume to need and likes) I did for a hungry family of four as we love left over stew.

Ingredients:

5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and halved.

2 medium sized onions quartered

Carrots as you please, I had these lovelies fresh in my garden

Peas to please.

2 stalks of celery cut rough

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground thyme

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder or fresh garlic chopped

1 bay leaf

1 cup of wine, I use rose’ or white as I find red too over powering

1/4 cup water and a heaping tbsp of corn starch.

2 cups of good quality beef broth, use low sodium or no salt as it’s always better to add your own salt to taste.

1 good pound of stewing beef.

Method:

Put the meat, celery and onions in the bottom of slow cooker.  Always start a slow cook with potato and carrots on top so they don’t over cook on you. The liquid does not have to cover them!  Add the carrots and potatoes.  Add the liquid.  Start the cook on high and turn to low when the liquid starts to bubble at side.  Or, if you won’t be home, just start it on low.   Now, just leave it alone.  Let it cook all day, 6 to 10 hours.  If you have one you can preset,  set it for 8 hours and then let it go to ‘keep warm’

Now, it’s time to serve, boot heat up to high.  Wait 10 minutes, mix the water and cornstarch.  Carefully stir into the stew until you get the consistency you like.  (some people don’t add any and like the watery broth, which is good too)

Remember, stew is what it means to you.  You can add or take away whatever you like.  Sometimes I add parsley chopped.  But, you also don’t want to over power it or over crowd it.  Also, don’t add things that will go mushy.  Corn is always nice to add…. Have fun playing with it.

What else is nice about the slow cook is that you can get all the ingredients ready at night, toss it in (in the right order) in the morning, turn it on and supper is ready when you get home!!

Thank you for visiting!

Leasa

 

 

 

White Asparagus Soup

Hi everyone.  I have to start by saying I’m sorry it’s been a while since I posted.  Today, one of my lovely white asparagus customers told me how disappointed she is that she cannot find my recipe for white asparagus soup.  She’s heard me talk about it and of course went looking for it.  So, I promised her that I would get it posted hence forth.

This is an extremely busy time of the year for us.  The fields are all being sewn and the massive home garden is going in.  This is my only excuse for not posting this soup until now.

First step:  Peel and chop about 2 lbs of white asparagus.

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Next, bring to a gentle boil your chopped asparagus in enough water to cover them.  I use plane water.  Using broth might overpower the delicate flavour of your asparagus.  Let them cook until fork tender and the flavour has infused into the water.

 

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While it cooks to fork tender measure out your other ingredients.  1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp white pepper, 1/4 butter, 1 cup of cream, 2 cups of whole milk, 1/2 cup of chopped ham.

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Next, after it’s nice and fork tender, add the butter and ham stir until melted over medium heat, gently whisk in the flour, as it thickens add the milk and cream.  Add the salt and pepper turning heat to low.  Stirring constantly and adjust salt and white pepper to taste.  20170528_173943

This is where you can adjust your personal preferences, thickness, salt, pepper…taste, taste and taste.  If you prefer it thinner, just add a little milk.

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Now, all that’s left to do, is enjoy!

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We had this tonight preceding our main course of slow roast beef, gravy and fries.  The roast had been on since this morning while I worked in the garden…but that’s another delicious story for another day.

Thank you so much for visiting my page.  Leasa

Liz & Joe’s

This goes back to when I was a kid.  Way, way back.  I was about six years old.  So, we are looking at about 50 years back.  I don’t know if either of my brothers will remember this, but I can remember this day like it was just yesterday, the smells and WONDERFUL taste of Elizabeth’s soup.

Liz and her husband Joe had a very tiny cottage like, outdated, very old restaurant on the top of the hill at Booth’s Harbour where my parents had a small boat and we had just put in our very old brand new to us, cottage!  Our ‘cottage’ was an old school bus that my parents found.  They working together gutted it, painted it, put in major bunk beds on both ends with cots and it was our escape for many years to come down by the water on Lake Erie.

One spring day, when there was bits of dirty snow on the sides of the road, my family, mom, dad, brothers Mark and Randy must have gone to the lake to check our brand new very old cottage.  For supper, we went to Liz & Joe’s, as the hand painted little sign said. My thinking is that this was a Hungarian couple.  They still had thick accents…  I remember walking into this dank little restaurant and the smell of cooking cabbage and savoury hunker down goodness just hit my nose and I’m sure I was drooling.  As a child I loved soup, stews all vegetables and meat and potatoes.  Much unlike both my brothers.  The lady with the brown grey streaked hair had a very large pot on the stove.  They had home made bread.  I don’t think there was a great menu choice, but they did have a grill.

Liz trotted over to the little table we all sat at, I think there was only maybe four tables in all and a little bar counter with swirly round seats.  She pretty much told us what we were going to get.  My brother Randy kicked up his heels.  I won’t eat that!  So Liz told him..’what’s the matter with you, no wonder you are so skinny!’  Joe yelled, ‘it’s okay, I make you a hamburger, you eat hamburgers?’  And, with that Randy was happy.

To this day, I remember that bowl of thick, thick soup, this ‘everything left over’ soup and that huge chunk of bread dripping with real butter and to this day, it still ranks up there with the best meal I’ve every had.

Today, I cleaned out my freezer, refrigerator and added a few ‘things’ and thought of Elizabeth and Joe.  As the day goes on, this soup will change as I try to get that wonderful flavour Elizabeth brought to my forever memory.  I will add the starch, either potato or pasta later in the day and it will thicken as the day goes by….

liz-n-joes