Category Archives: pressure canning

Twins!

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I have been “off-line” lately due in part to the immanent birth of our daughter’s baby.  (And that cooking & canning classes have really booked me up, along with our bed & breakfast.  I am pleased to announce the birth of twin granddaughters!!  Photo to follow soon.

Is Valerie Crazy?

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I thought I might have your attention.  <chuckling>  Anyone who knows me may have actually asked themselves that very question.

You may not know that I went from business executive to helping others learn about a more simple life, one that includes hands-on messy work…(compost comes to mind).  Why not just keep doing what I was doing so I could just BUY anything I thought I needed or wanted?

It took me a bit, but I learned what others already knew.  One cannot buy the best things in life.  Love.  Happiness.  Health.  Those things come from a bank of a different sort.  And you have to work for them.

But…I digress…Is Valerie Crazy?

Yep.  Just crazy enough to open two businesses, in MICHIGAN, in this poor economy..and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  It is quite an adventure too!  Crazy enough to trust the relationship my husband, John, and I have.  Although, maybe he’s crazy-er for smiling and helping to make all this happen!  A very good friend, Gordon, reminds me once in a while that “John didn’t sign up for that.” when I get a bit ahead of our plans.  (John says I do everything fast.)

Bygone Basics is nicely established and picking up steam.  I am thrilled with the uniqueness each guest brings to an experience.  I feel truly blessed by them.

Amanda’s Bequest Bed & Breakfast is just now opening.  (click the name to check out the website) John and I look forward to every guest.  I’m all excited too…MORE PEOPLE TO COOK FOR!  (I can’t help it, I grew up on a rural country farm in a big family….food was a very important part of life…and you fed people as a means of letting them know they are welcome)

Here is the perfect example of why I do what I do:

Bygone Basics' guests sitting down for a hearty farm lunch.

This family planned a vacation in March 2012 around their Experience with Bygone Basics.  They drove through two states plus part of Michigan to get here.  They were a brother, sister, husband, mother.  And oh did they know how to enjoy each other’s company (I can only imagine that road trip)!  They make a point out of celebrating holidays with a unique theme every time so noone takes any holiday for granted.  Isn’t that a great idea?  It might sound odd, but think how memorable a “Mexican” Easter would be.  As each is different, it isn’t as likely that these special family times will fade from memory.  They learned how to can at Bygone Basics, both pressure canning and water bath canning.  I feel certain they will take that knowledge home and have much quality, happy, family times, canning produce from someone’s garden together.

Canning CAN be fun!

People of the past always knew, but we’ve begun to forget.  Many hands make light work and lighter hearts.  Think barn raisings and Amish summer kitchens.  It’s not much work when you are enjoying the company of others while using the time industriously.  Some might even call it a vacation.  Is that crazy or what?

Light is the task where many share the toil. – Homer

On a completely different note:  Here is a link to the March “I Can at Bygone Basics” Newsletter.  Try the dried apples recipe.  They are easy, healthy, and delicious.

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This Week’s post is written by a guest blogger:  Jessica Rabe.

I would like to apologize.  I am a guest blogger today, and I accidentally published something while trying to link.  This is why I don’t have much to do with technology 🙂

With Valerie is in Kansas for a week to help with an ill family member, I have the pleasure of being a Guest Blogger for Bygone Basics.  First, I’ll introduce myself, and then, I’ll let you read what you came for in peace 🙂

My name is Jessica, and I’m Valerie’s oldest daughter.  Mom, jokingly calles me her Scullery Maid.  I’ve been helping with the heritage kitchen whenever I can, and I love *almost* every minute of it.  (I mean, who truly enjoys the cleanup?)

Waste Not, Want Not

Have you ever thought about all of the trimmings you throw away, or even toss on the compost?  I never really did either, but it turns out the answer is: A lot!  Recently, Valerie and I stumbled upon a wonderful blog post: Five Packaged Foods You Never Need To Buy Again by Jane Mountain.  I’ll be the first to admit that I got a bit carried away in my excitement.  My second favorite part of the Bygone Basics is learning how to take food as far as it will go, so the idea of saving the trimmings, bones, and juices really got me excited.

You mean….. I can use garbage to make all the soup I could ever hope for!!?

(For those wondering, my favorite is the health aspect.  There’s just nothing like using raw closest-to-nature products, and the only drawback is cost.  Hence my excitement!)  Imagine my shock when Valerie told me that she already knew all about this.  It’s so easy, why weren’t we already doing this?  (Her answer was that she found she got great eggs from the chickens by feeding them the trimmings.)  I figured we can do both….first make the soup stock and then feed the skimmed off, boiled stuff to the chickens.  Worked like a charm!  We got four times the product from our food.  ate the carrot, peelings and ends went into making stock….and the the chickens got everything strained out of the stock…and we got our eggs.  NOTE:  chickens didn’t get the bones…those got composted.

A lot of product was gotten out of everyday "trash". This is a shot of our fresh soup stock and some of the day's pasta sauce all canned and ready for the shelves.

After about a week of saving, we had enough to start making a meat/vegetable stock.  (I’m still waiting to make just veggie stock.  There is much anticipation for a huge mess and a delicious way to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of these vegetables .)  It sure isn’t a pretty process, and it takes a lot of time to boil down.  But really, we just did other things while it simmered (sure smelled good).  I have to tell you, I don’t see any future need to buy soup or bullions.

Now is the time

During the summer, everyone is rushing to get their produce in jars before it spoils.  There’s really no time to try out any of the fancy recipes you dream of doing when it’s a race against time.  However, winter is the perfect time to start unsealing some of those jars and making that spaghetti sauce, or to try any other experiment you’ve always wanted to try.  Such an urge grabbed Valerie just last week, at the same time we were doing the meat stock.  She began breaking into some canned basic tomatoes, herbs she’d dried, and threw a few fresh ingredients in there.  This is also a great way to turn disappointment into satisfaction.  Amanda and myself had messed up a bruschetta recipe…she added that too…a perfect way to put some good use to those still-good tomatoes.  The result was a delicious pasta sauce that’s also healthy!  (My favorite part.)

Remedy from Ukraine

In December, I returned home from spending a few months in Kiev.  I was there teaching English, and honing my Russian language abilities.  Of course, I ended up sick a couple of times, and so my host family made me some “tea.”  Surprisingly, it was as easy as putting some lemon slices in some hot water, and squishing the juices out of them with a spoon.  It went down so nicely.  What a great way to give your immune system a boost!  This is the time of year when people begin to get sick, and this is a great, simple home remedy to drink before or after you start feeling poorly.  Stay healthy!

Contact Valerie today by calling (231) 740-4065, or emailing ICan@bygonebasics.com to ask about the February classes, (click to here check them out) put in an order, or schedule your own Experience.  Be sure to visit the newly redesigned (and easier to navigate Bygone Basics website.  www.bygonebasics.com

You might not agree, but I think this photo is a thing of beauty. Stock simmering in the back and pasta sauce simmering in the front. I wish you all could have shared in the aroma!

….New News…?

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For a lack of a better title to this post….

Sorry for the obviousness of it. But I do have new news.

Actually it is a few links to new news.

For the most recent newsletter, read it by clicking here

Even better….Bygone Basics just posted the NEW Calendar of Special Events!!  I’m very excited and plan to hold these sessions with approximately 6 – 7 people.  By keeping it small and personal, it will be a blast …and a half!  🙂  Click here to access the website page that holds the calendar.  You’ll see how to view the calendar at that point.  It is as easy as….pie.  😉

We have been asked to be part of the Holiday Home Tour here in the White Lake Area.  I asked three times if they were sure.  (they’ve now been dutifully warned)  You see….  I believe in Christmas as a time of faith, food, family, and fun.  It is not about how much gold and lights I can get on a pine tree.

Photo of Amanda’s Bequest taken on 11/4/11. We recently found an old photo of her taken a very long time ago. She had “gingerbread” and a beautiful front porch. We will strive to replace these in time.

Christmas at Amanda’s Bequest and of course, Bygone Basics, is filled with stringing popcorn and cranberry garlands.  Making pine cone and fruit ornaments.  creating evergreen decorations.   All while music and goofy fun is had.  And the food…oh boy, the food is made in abundance and flavor to get you through until next Christmas in your memories!   (A side note….I refuse to decorate anything until Thanksgiving has had its deserved attention and the home tour is on December 4 so WOW, we’ll be busy!)  More on this tour in the near future…

Lastly, we are still waiting to learn the outcome of our Special Use Permit request to make Amanda’s Bequest into a Bed & Breakfast.  The public  hearing/planning commission meeting is next monday night at 7:30 pm in the Montague City Hall.  I’m all aglow with nerves and “what-ifs”  But, I guess I put my faith hat on and keep moving forward.

Until next time….Have a wonderful November.

Be sure to rate this note with stars (at the top) … and of course, share it with friends.  We really do appreciate it!  I look forward to seeing you in a calendar event or two!  Better yet, schedule your own private heritage culinary experience with Bygone Basics and get the holiday spirit in a wonderful way.  They make great gifts too.  (click the logo at the top right to go to our website and learn more.)

Yours Truly In the spirit of Thanksgiving,

Valerie Hanson

CRAZY INSANE, ALMOST THOROUGHLY, AMAZING WORLD

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Squash in the Bygone Basic's garden...before it snuck out of the fence.

Just letting you know that I’m still here.  I’ve …well…you read the title of this Blog….a bit overwhelmed by life.  It is truly amazing, but gets crazy too, doesn’t it?!

Lately, I’ve been putting by everything that doesn’t run faster than me.  And if I can find someone who will do a bit of hunting for me…well then…all bets are off on that too.  Smile  We also have had a lot of Bygone Basics guests come to learn how to make these heritage recipes themselves, while immersed in old-farmhouse style atmosphere and tools…they are always surprised how easy old-fashioned baking and home canning really is.  Especially when I show them (if they wish to know) how a few of today’s tools can speed things up with out reducing the quality of the food.

I’ve also added pies to my line of baked goods that you can order through the Bygone Basics pantry.  Right now a lot of various types of apple pies are going through the ovens.  Pumpkin pies are following in popularity.

I’ve submitted an application for a Special Use Permit to turn our old manse into “Amanda’s Bequest – A Heritage Immersion Bed & Breakfast.”  More on this in the future.

As the season changes into autumn and the weather is colder, so is my house (because when I’m the only one in it I can put on a sweater and I hate high fuel bills). 

Did you know that in the past, home baking served a dual purpose?  Food was baked, not only for the table, but also to keep the house warm. 

I follow that principle as well.  Lately, I’ve been baking squash for pies, breads, and savory dinners.  Squash is such a nutritious and versatile fruit.  It is just as tasty in desserts as it is in the main meal.  It is surprisingly cheap and easy too.  Here’s my simple treatment of it:

Cut the squash in half or smaller if it is really large (by squash, I refer to pumpkins and other winter squash such as acorn, Hubbard, and butternut).  About 4-5 inch chunks are good.  Don’t worry about peeling, just wash and cut up.  Remove the seed portion with a spoon easily once it is cut.

Line a large pan (cookie sheet or 13×9) with foil and spray or wipe with oil.  Place the squash cut side down.  Place in oven (as many racks as you can fit for maximum energy use) at 325 F.  Bake until fork slides easily into squash to shell.  This may take two or more hours and is dependent on ripeness, variety, and cut up size of squash (smaller pieces cook faster).  Really easy right?  I must warn you, it will start smelling really good towards the end and you will want to serve some of that for dinner!

Once soft throughout, take out of oven and cool for 15 minutes.  Use a knife or spoon to scrape the flesh from the shell.  At this point it is perfectly useable in recipes and for dinner.  I take it one step further.  I press it through my cone shaped food mill with a wooden pusher (that is ages old, but works like a charm!).  That takes all of a few minutes.  You can use any type of food mill you have.  Voila!  Yellow Gold! 

Make pumpkin pie using eggs from your free range chickens (I do anyway); serve it with butter (or bacon grease) and salt/pepper for dinner; can it for future yums!!  It makes great sweet breads and even baby food.  You can even add brown sugar and butter for a great “Thanksgiving sweet potato” taste…

I promise to look the other way if you decide to add marshmallows to the top.

Squash we grew for the sense of humor in its name...Great Warty Thing. It is true to its name!

If you didn’t have the space to grow squash, it is incredibly reasonable to buy this time of year and stores until you have time to bake it.  I’ve even been known to bake the flesh of my jack-o-lanterns on Halloween eve.  Why not?  I’ve already gone through the work of removing the seeds and since I carve my pumpkins the day of Halloween, it is still fresh.  Waste not – Want not.


The Outhouse Was Good Enough For Grandma…

The outhouse was good enough for Grandma, shouldn’t we still be using them then?

Lately, it seems that nearly every time I tell people what I do at Bygone Basics, a common comment is made by someone in the circle of conversation.  “Oh, my daughter-in-law (or whomever) wants me to teach them how to can.”  Of course that piques my interest and I ask about what they’ll can and which methods they’ll use.  Almost always, the response is peaches or tomatoes to start with and they use the same method that has been in the family for a few generations, open kettle.

If I’m beating a dead horse I do not apologize.  I know I’ve touched on this subject before.

I cringe when I hear open kettle or water bathing vegetables, or many other dangerous methods.  Open Kettle refers to a pot on the stove of the product to be canned, boiled, and then pour hot into clean jars and lidded with no following water bath or pressure canning.  When I let the person know that open kettle is not a safe canning process AND ALSO that meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables should ALWAYS be pressure canned (not water bath canned because water only boils at 212 degrees so the food product never gets hotter than that), the next (sometimes indignant) comment is as predictable as the one that led to it….

 “It was good enough for Grandma, its good enough for us!”

Let’s explore that comment.  Why?  Because I need to get this off my chest as I’m going to explode the next time I hear it as a reason to pass along outdated and unsafe actions.

    • Grandma used an outhouse, the sears catalog for toilet paper, and probably didn’t have a sink with nice hot water and antibacterial soap near it either.  It was good enough for Grandma….how about you?
    • Grandma (and Grandpa) butchered the hog and hung it to dry or cool.  Did they hang it in the clean USDA certified cooler or smokehouse?  No.  That didn’t exist for most homes.  This too, was good enough for Grandma…..would you be ok with this meat today?
    • Grandma got her water out of the ground and used it as it was…..how many plastic bottles or purified water have you consumed or given your family lately?

Home canning is a versatile heritage art.

My point isn’t to suggest that someone is taking the easy road.  My point is that:

Grandma did the best she could with the equipment and the knowledge she had, shouldn’t we? 

Science has come a long way in the last 75 years.  Botulism isn’t the only organism to be concerned about, but it is a VERY serious one.  We now know that botulism actually only grows in the absence of oxygen.  So when a person does an open kettle canning process, they are creating a bit of seal on the jar, but the product inside never reached the temperatures necessary to kill organisms if they were present.  (botulism is killed beginning at 240 degrees F.)  The perfect environment to grow a nice bit of toxin.

How do we know that no one ever got sick from her home food preservation methods? Back then did we do a state-of-the art autopsy on every death?  Did anyone ever just get sick? How do we know it wasn’t from the food they ate hours prior?

I’m sure many, many jars of home canned food was just fine from Grandma’s kitchen.  It was tasty and nutritious.

Were they all?  Probably not.   Why wouldn’t we make the most of science and today’s advancements to make our home prepared foods as safe as possible?

For more information from the USDA on updated home canning recommendations check out this link:

http://www.csrees.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/home_canning_guide.html

For other comments on canning safety, check out the Bygone Basics August 2011 newsletter:

http://bygonebasics.com/web_documents/bygone_basics_i_can_news_august_2011.pdf

You can find more information on safely learning to can and read other newsletters at www.bygonebasics.com

Spiced Beets, canned in the Bygone Basics kitchen.

Of course, I’d like you to come to Bygone Basics to learn about safe home food preservation while having a fantastic heritage culinary experience in an 1874 home.   As always, thank you for preserving your heritage through food and fun….because …. You CAN.  🙂

 

You CAN be safe.

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I am finally finding myself with my head above (sort-of) water in this whole “restore an old house” endeavor.  🙂  I will be blogging once per week going forward.   

Look forward to learning about my girls in future posts…..they are chickens really….and having a flock of chickens and vegetable gardening while living within “City” limits.   

Check out the facebook Bygone Basics page for daily updates or quick photo shots.   Here is a link….Click LIKE to keep notified of updates or just to let me know you like what we do here at Bygone Basics.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bygone-Basics/135169416537153?sk=info#!/pages/Bygone-Basics/135169416537153?sk=wall

Please read the August 2011 issue of “I Can at Bygone Basics” newsletter.  I am especially concerned about canning safety (page 2) as we get heavy into harvest season.  There are a lot of old family methods that are just not safe.  http://www.bygonebasics.com/web_documents/bygone_basics_i_can_news_august_2011.pdf

I look forward to blogging more!

Happy Harvest.

Valerie