Tag Archives: home canning

Jade Jam

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Hi all.  This week’s Bygone Basics’ blog is very special.  Jade has taken what she learned here in our kitchen to her home kitchen and gone crazy making jam.  She then “infected” her Mother-in-Law, Debbie, with her jam-making and now they do it together.  Next in her sticky wake she wrote notes and took photos.  Be still my heart.  I LOVE to hear of stories like this.  Here is Jammin’ Jade’s story as she sent it to me. (there may have been some notes added by the editor in the interest of fun…darned editor) 😉  Jade’s words are in green (of course).

The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today.  -Lewis Carroll 

Today, Debbie  and I made Caramel Apple Jam. If it weren’t for you, Valerie Hanson, this never would have been able to happen. I took the liberty of sending pictures that I have taken and hope that my notes come across. It was a lovely bonding experience for us and I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks to you. So, thank you.

You could thank me with a little jar of that jam. CARAMEL APPLE, nice. But seriously….You are most welcome….THANK YOU!

First we peeled, cored and sliced the apples.

We made sure to have washed and sterilized jars on hand.

We pre-measured (yay) the sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice and butter (to stop the foaming). This is of course so that we had exactly what we needed the instant we needed it.

Someone was paying attention!! I bet they were exact measurements too, so the jam “sets” like it should….

Then Debbie diced the apples into small pieces. Then put the apples, lemon juice, apple juice and butter into a pot to boil.

Mother-in-Law was made to do the tedious job of processing the apples? tsk tsk.. 😉  Guessing that Jade is doing this while her little girl is napping (taking note of the monitor).

After it came to a boil, we turned the apples down to a simmer for 5 minutes while covered. Then we added the brown sugar and sugar very carefully and a bit at a time. Making sure to stir until it was all blended.

After it had came to a rolling boil we added the liquid pectin. Having already prepped the package for use. lol

Standing it in a glass is handy.  It IS very disappointing to reach for the envelope of pectin at the proper time only to discover that it has slid down from where it was leaning and the pectin escaped all over the counter.  Don’t ask me how I know this….

Then after it started boiling we waited one minute before removing it from the stove.

Then Debbie put the jam into the jars while I checked the amounts. Then they were wiped on the tops (where the rubber meets the road…hahahah) and sealed with the lids and rings. We both turned them just to make sure there was no leaking problems.

I hate it when my problems leak…

Here is what it looks like pre-lids.

Then the sealed jars were put into a water bath for 10 minutes.

Then the jars were removed and put onto a wire rack to cool until tomorrow. Then we will wash the jars, label and store. This was extremely simple to do. As for the blue duck, it isn’t required. My daughter Beth kept handing it to me. Presumably it is for good luck. I can only say that when I sampled the jam it was really good. 🙂

We all should have a blue good luck canning duck.  (must be Beth got up from nap-time mid-jamming)

Here is Jade at Bygone Basics….

Schedule your jam session at Bygone Basics.  What better time than food, friends, fun?

What treat this has been. Thank you Jade and Debbie

….and blue good luck canning duck.

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NEATO!

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How neato is this?  kalamitykelli nominated me (icanatbygonebasics) for the Versatile Blog Award.  It sure added a thrill to my day as I was over focused and drenched in paint doing a project (hand-painting a sign for our B&B).

Thank you kalamitykelli.  🙂   (http://kellisretrokitchenarts.wordpress.com/)

As a VBA recipient, I should tell you 7 things about myself:

  1.  I have 8 children (6 daughters and 2 sons), 2 grandsons, 1 baby grand son due in August, and TWIN baby grandgirls expected next month!
  2. I can move my eyes independent of each other (makes me look rather loopy!)
  3. I just opened a heritage farm-stay Bed & Breakfast (www.amandasbequest.com)
  4. I garden every open square inch possible….vertical and horizontal (I have peppers and tomatoes stuck everywhere in the summer)

    This is what I've been doing. Hand painting a sign for our Bed & Breakfast. I covered in paint and am told by my husband that I must roll in paint like a horse in sand. http://www.amandasbequest.com

  5. I am a crazy chicken lady (love my free range “girls”) and they follow me about like ducklings
  6. I teach heritage culinary and farm kitchen skills (soap making, pressure canning, gardening, baking breads and pies old-style…etc) in a 140 year old kitchen (www.bygonebasics.com)
  7. I have a novel pacing across my brain and back, rattling its cage, wanting to get out….

Here are 15 versatile blogs I enjoy (no particular order):

1.  The Soulsby Farm (http://soulsbyfarm.wordpress.com/) who believe in the same lifestyle I do of self- sustainable living and are random bloggers so you get a wonderful view of their lives.

2.  Jen Maan in Amman (http://jenmaaninamman.com/) an ex-patriot from Southern California who is currently in Amman with her husband.  Her blogs are humourous and cultural diverse…and have some interesting recipes too!

3.  Kath Usitalo (http://kathusitalo.com/) has a couple of blogs and a great writing style…and she’s continuously visiting interesting places and sharing them in her blog with great photography too.  You never know what she’s going to share next.

4.  In Toads Garden (http://toads.wordpress.com/) is a wonderful gardener in Denmark with a very natural earthy style that I enjoy.

5.  Yes You Can (http://yes-you-can-can.com/) is a wonderful country girl’s guide and covers sewing, cooking, gardening…lots of basic “how to’s”

6.  thesolitarycook (http://thesolitarycook.wordpress.com/) is all about FOOD!  She knows her stuff and clearly loves the enormous variety of foods she writes about.

7.  wallopingteaspoon (http://wallopingteaspoon.wordpress.com/) is also culinary pro in my book.  Her blogs are thorough and well written.  She blogs about food from tuxedo cupcakes to a good “sammich” to Red Snapper

8.  Rosey Dow Blog (http://roseydow.wordpress.com/) I like her old house blogs and feel an affinity.

9.  hippie itch (http://hippieitch.wordpress.com/) covers a lot of topics from healthy lifestyles to food to animals.  I love her passion for animals.

10.  The Domestically Impaired Guide to Retro Kitchen Arts (http://kellisretrokitchenarts.wordpress.com/) is a great blog on home canning…a KINDRED SPIRIT.

11.  Aquaponic Family (http://aquaponicfamily.wordpress.com/) is a fun blog about aquaponic gardening.  I live vicariously through them as I would like to do what they are….

12.  Farm Country Crafts (http://farmcountrycrafts.wordpress.com/) Pretty well described in the title but goes much further!  A fun blog and you’ll love her Five Reasons to Do Yard Work in the Shade.

13.  domesticateddilettante (http://domesticateddilettante.wordpress.com/ is a well-written and well-rounded blog about family, food, gardening… I love that she is determined to garden.

14.  The Cosy Creative (http://thecosycreative.wordpress.com/) is about a lot of things.  I really like her motto “feel happy, make something”

15.  Linda Stone (http://lindastone.net/) is a thinker and able to transmit those thoughts with good clear writing.  What can I say, I like thinkers!

Keep up the great posts!  And thank you for sharing parts of your lives with me.

Valerie Hanson

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.

….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.

New Year, New Digs

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New Year, New Digs

Delicious fruit pies in the depth of winter....yum

I found it next to impossible to do a blog the last bit of December. I’m quite frightened by how fast time passes. Before I know it, it seems I’ll be 80 or so!
We are (mostly) all moved to our new “digs” in Montague. It went much faster than expected. Which, I suppose, is in keeping with my time flying lately!
Husband John is busy hitting one task after another and now, with the new year, must tackle the BIG ONE. He will gut out a front room in our new-old home and install a private kitchen for Bygone Basics. We are using a kitchen that came with the house (there were two). We wouldn’t dream of gutting a room in such a fine old house, but someone beat us to it and put in a drop ceiling, stick-on floor linoleum squares, 2 goofy inner walls and a really badly done bathroom. So….putting in the heritage kitchen will be an improvement. It will be a few months before this project will be complete! So we continue to use the big main kitchen in the home for a while.
Speaking of kitchens, Bygone Basics had it’s biggest Experience yet. We had a family of five adults and we did home pressure canning and made three different types of pie from basic ingredients….and had a blast doing it. Check out the pictures on our Facebook page.  Click here to go check it out now. 

Many hands make a FUN time in the kitchen!

Jorgensen family with some of their products made in the Bygone Basics kitchen

Putting Food by…

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Fun with friends!

Experience Putting Food By with friends

The term “Putting Food By” refers to an older way of life when a household made use of each season’s bounty as it occured. For example, when it was asparagus season (May/June in Michigan) asaparagus is pickled, canned, frozen, baked into cookies (yes..and they are yummy), made into soups, casseroles, and srambeld into eggs…to name a few methods. Similarly each season has its own bounty and families/friends/neighbors worked together to make each harvest period yield well for each household. I love the phrase, “many hands make light work.” Indeed they do! I have found that many hands make plenty of pats on the back, belly laughs, shared lasting memories, and applause for a job well done. Putting Food By not only saves a household dollars, but it also ensures a healthy food source, solace in knowing that there is food in the pantry, and makes lasting friendships the making of the product and the sharing of it as well.
So…instead of throwing a party where you have to cook or cater and worry about how you’ll entertain….consider this:
Plan for a seasonal harvest in your area, have friends, neighbors, or family over to capture that amazing flavor in a mason jar. 🙂 …while saving money and creating a fabulous and unique time wtih people you care about.
Indeed consider learning how with a session at Bygone Basics…we indeed will make it an Experience you will never forget.