Harvest Creations: MamaCasz’s 2-Day Spicy BBQ Sauce

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September Garden

Despite our warm temperature this summer, for some reason it seems to me like the tomatoes took their sweet time becoming ripe. But now they are doing so gang-busters. This is a recipe that I’ve modified from the canning cookbook “You Can Can” put out by Better Homes & Garden. I’ve adjusted it to fit what my family loves, mostly more spice and a richer taste. When I posted on Instagram my completed BBQ sauce canned jars, I got several requests for the recipe. Be informed that part of making this is the sauce sitting and cooling and soaking in all the flavors before you complete it and can it. Hence, the two-day. I can’t guarantee it will be as yummy if you try to rush this. This is always a recipe I do over a weekend, therefore. But obviously, if you have a Tuesday and Wednesday free to work on this, by all means.

Ripen tomatoes, ripen!

Ripen tomatoes, ripen!

A couple of other notes on this recipe:

I grow all these things on my land. I suggest you purchase organic at your local market or head off to the farmer’s markets. The farmers are at the end of their season now and are willing to wheel and deal! The important thing is that the tomatoes are fresh. I literally pick the bucket of tomatoes and then get to work on this recipe.

This recipe is great when you have to pick the tomatoes before their sandwich-ripe because cold weather is coming or rains might split them…

In regards to the chilies, don’t worry about coring and seeding. This recipe is about the chile bite at the end. The tang of the tomatoes and onions balances out the fire. So, just chop up the chilies, seeds and all; also, feel free to add more if you like it extra spicy. I have to serve seniors and kids when I cook often, and my hubby and I’s preference for extra spicy doesn’t go over. I normally make a small batch for my husband and I, as well as for gift giving, that is extra spicy.

We put these on ribs the same day I canned it, so you don’t have to wait to use the sauce; but, a month’s time of curing does wonders for it’s complexity.

MamaCasz's Two-Day Spicy BBQ Sauce

MamaCasz’s Two-Day Spicy BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:

12 to 14 pounds of firm tomatoes

3 red onions chopped (should have about 3 cups)

2.5 cups of chopped celery (about one bunch or 7 to 8 stalks)

2.5 cups of chopped green, yellow, and red peppers

6 hot chile peppers

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup of balsamic vinegar

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

1.5 cups of packed dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 teaspoons Hungarian Paprika

4 teaspoons of sea salt

4 teaspoons dry mustard

3 tablespoons of fresh herbs chopped fine from your garden (I put in parsley, chive, and thyme)

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Dash of cayenne powder

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Instructions:

1. Wash tomatoes. Remove stem ends and cores. Cut tomatoes into quarters.

2. Place tomato quarters in 12-quart stew pot. Cook coverd, over low to medium heat about 30 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. (Note the original recipe said 15 minutes on this part. My tomatoes were never soft by that point, but by 30 minutes they are…so just watch in case your tomatoes cook faster).

3. Add onions, celery, sweet peppers, chile peppers, and garlic. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for about an hour. (Again, the original recipe calls for 30 minutes on this part. I found that wasn’t enough for the vegetables to cook through and be ready for the food processor/blender. Besides, you want the flavors to blend and meld. Just don’t let it cook at too high a temperature and have your pot burn.)

4. At this point I let the pot cool for a bit (normally while I’m cleaning up the rest of my kitchen from the mess I just made and taking the veggie scraps to my chickens), then stick it in the fridge overnight.

5. The next day let the mixture warm up a bit before working with it. I pull it out of the fridge and set it in the kitchen while I make breakfast and do my morning chores. Then get a really large bowl and dump the tomato/veggie mixture into it. Do not wash your pot. Put the veggie mixture either through a food processor or blender to puree. I have a really small food processor, so I have to do this in batches. Return each batch of the tomato/vegetable puree to your big 12-quart pot. (The original recipe says to discard the seeds and skins. I have found that is not necessary as the processor and blender just rock those babies up and later help to thicken the sauce. So just throw it all in there and puree away.) Now take a kitchen ruler and measure and note the depth of your mixture.

6.  Heat the pot of pureed tomatoes/veggies to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 1.5 to 2 hours or until the mixture is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Depth of mixture should be half of the original measure.

7. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, salt, mustard, fresh herbs, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over low to medium heat about an hour or until desired thickness, stirring frequently.

8. While it cooks and thickens, prep your pint jars and lids.

9. Ladle hot sauce into hot, sterilized pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process filled jars in boiling water canner for 25 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Remove jars from canner; cool.

This sauce is great on ribs, chicken, heck, anything you can BBQ. Enjoy! If you use the recipe, be sure to come back and let me know how you enjoyed it.

Harvest Time is Canning Time

Harvest Time is Canning Time

 

 

 

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Harvest Creations: Gardening To Do for September

This is the garden on Sept. 1, 2014. See I did have every intention of getting this post to you sooner.

This is the garden on Sept. 1, 2014. See I did have every intention of getting this post to you sooner.

Oh dear me, I’m a terrible blogger, because I’m trying to be a good urban farmer/micro farmer/future master gardener. Too much time outside, and not enough at the keyboard. But can you blame me?

With the start of school, and the evenings getting shorter and cooler, there’s still much to do, even though school and shorter days makes it a bit harder. I’m still harvesting every day out on my Grow Foods Not Lawns plots. Today, in fact, brought in more zucchini (oh my goodness!), more green beans, green peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatillos, and carrots. Here in Western Washington we’re enjoying a bit of an extended summer, so I’m thrilled that I’ll likely be canning well into October.

My Indian Summer harvest.

My Indian Summer harvest.

The last month I learned that I need way less Russian Red Kale. My family prefers the Lacinto and Large-Leaf Kale. Other than the chickens, I can’t seem to give the Red Kale away either. (I also owe you all a blog post on a recipe for a divine Kale salad.)

I have some ideas about new lay out for the garden for next year, too – but that’s something that will happen later in fall and early winter.

However, August did see me getting just about everything done on my to-do list. I’m sorely behind in my weeding, even given that at one point in the month I was caught up. I have been dealing with an injury to my hip/left leg that has inhibited my mobility; in fact, it kept me out of the garden for three days! For shame!

Even with my best pest-control efforts, the dang moles got to the roots of this giant sunflower. Man down!

Even with my best pest-control efforts, the dang moles got to the roots of this giant sunflower. Man down!

I had some troubles with the rose cuttings I did; but, Hubby and I took a class last weekend on propagating, so I’m hoping that with my new knowledge, we’ll get a successful rose start for spring planting!

I’m a bit behind on my mulching – procuring material has been a blocker to this – having a child starting college eats into my mulching budget. Other than that, I was able to move the flowers from the north-facing south bed to the south-facing north driveway bed. I weeded my fanny off, fought bunnies, cabbage moths, slugs, and aphids, and of course watered when I needed – although, we’ve been blessed this summer with rain just about when we absolutely needed it. I visit my local farm-supply store about once a week and have had to get jars, too. I hope to spam you with multiple Harvest Creation posts on my canning adventures and other recipes, soon. Parsnips, winter lettuce, spinach, successive carrots and cabbage were all planted and the spinach is just about ready for harvest.

So, what needs to be done for the rest of September besides harvesting? Plenty! This month is almost as busy as the prep months of March/April. In fact, you start prepping for spring now, as well as fall/winter harvests. Sorry, again, for the late entry on this; but, you’ll need to get this stuff done in the next two weeks – at least if you’re in my zone (a cross between 6-7-8, but mostly 7b).

Our first pumpkin harvest. It will cure in the sun for a week to make the skin nice and tough, then I'll store in cool, dry place before carving for Halloween!

Our first pumpkin harvest. It will cure in the sun for a week to make the skin nice and tough, then I’ll store in cool, dry place before carving for Halloween!

Here’s September’s To Do:

  • Get gravel and mulch in to complete the new flower bed along the north driveway
  • Continue to harvest
  • Pest Control
  • Weed
  • Water (although, I haven’t turned the soaker hoses on in weeks and hope to not have to)
  • Mulch (really need to get on this)
  • Tend to new growth of winter plants
  • Plant radishes
  • Pull “done” plants and put compost down
  • Propagate plants (strawberries, blueberries, honeysuckle, lavender, and cuttings from neighbor’s fruit trees) – I’m hoping to do a blog post on this as we learn more
  • Finish shade plant bed along south-side, north-facing fence
  • Figure out if we’re going to make a greenhouse or just turn south-window in garage into a make-shift one? (Currently the firewood supply is where I need to build a greenhouse and there are other home-improvement projects that may take my hubby’s time.)
  • Plant spring-time bulbs in between lillies, irises, and peonies bed (new bed along driveway).
  • Plant garlic
  • Go through and find volunteer plants and move to appropriate spot (I have volunteer pansies, snapdragons, lupine, and other stuff I need to move to appropriate places).

Whew!

That’s a lot of stuff I have to do in the next couple a weeks, along with putting food by and finishing my novel.

Best get to it.

Tell me what you’ve learned this growing season? How are you preparing for the next one?

 

It's been a banner year for cucumbers this year. We've done six batches of pickles -- all varieties. Look for a blog post on this soon.

It’s been a banner year for cucumbers this year. We’ve done six batches of pickles — all varieties. Look for a blog post on this soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Homesteading Experiment: Hanging Laundry to Dry, Dryer recommendations

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I never set out purposefully to be doing all these “homesteading” things. It just happened organically. I love fresh tomatoes and herbs and slowly started growing those things over the years myself so I always had them on hand. We love homemade salsa, so that was next on the grow-it-ourselves agenda, along with learning to preserve food by putting it by in mason jars. It’s been a great education and we’re reaping benefits like healthier and yummier food, easy gifts and bartering on hand, as well as learning lost arts.

I’m not a prepper – although I have nothing against those that do so in a manner that does not harm anyone. In my community the term prepper has a bad connotation, normally preceded by the term “doomsday.” Given the local headlines, and everything our community went through during the follow-on manhunt, it’s understandable. However, being prepared for emergencies and having skills to survive temporary power outages and the like, is a good thing, I believe. This summer has been a bit of an experiment for me and it has taught me lots.

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In the first week of June our electric dryer – plagued as it has been by poor design – died again. My husband and I had already replaced the heating element at least four times, at a cost of about $50 a pop. Plus, we also had to replace thermostats at one point because the burnt-out heating element ruined those. Those cost about $35. This does not include my husband’s time and labor. A repairman would have cost about $200 a pop, if we weren’t lucky enough to have the skill ourselves to repair the dryer.  Obviously our repairs added up to close to the cost of a lower-end new dryer. It’s been hugely frustrating, to say the least. It’s a Maytag dryer. Bought new in the fall of 2009. My father-in-law is just incredulous that this dryer is at the end of its life. But, I refuse to repair it again.

Enter the experiment. Weekly I always did one load of clothes – my delicates – without using my dryer. They would hang to dry. It was an easy jump that to decide we would hang our all our laundry to dry just as they did in days of yore when things like electric dryers didn’t exist. That’s what I’ve done all summer. We had a week of rainy weather where I took the towels to a Laundromat (cost me $5 to dry the loads that week); but other than that, our laundry has been hung outside on the line or on a drying rack next to our wood stove – sometimes, in fact most days, I have both going to keep up with our family of five’s laundry needs.

Besides the fresh-smelling benefit to the clothes, there’s has been other benefits as well.

The amazing thing is that our electric bill went down more than $100 for the months I’ve not been using a dryer. Can you believe that? $100 each month — that’s $300 so far. Other than towels, no one has noticed much difference in how their clothes feel. The sheets and blankets smell amazing, too. There’s something about air-and-sunshine-dried clothes that are so appealing.

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The money we’ve saved on electric bills has been going in a kitty to buy a new dryer. I won’t buy a Maytag or Whirlpool, given that they are basically the same company and working with the same design and manufacturing process that likely got us where we are today with the homesteading experiment.

Another benefit is that by all accounts in just a short summer season we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by 10 percent. According to many sources, the dryer is the third-most energy-hungry appliance, after the refrigerator and washer. Air-drying your clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year.

Wow.

The Western Washington rainy season is quickly approaching, which means I’ll have fewer days to actually hang the clothes outside; however, I’ll likely do every load I can with air-drying regardless. Regardless, it won’t be an appliance I use daily. We’ll be reconfiguring our laundry room, too, to host the drying rack permanently, to make the ease of drying the clothes that much more convenient and not in the middle of our home by the wood stove.

The benefits of not using my dryer are too strong and profitable not to do so; however, having an athlete in the house whose workout clothes and team uniforms require rapid washing and drying, as well as children who are prone to accidents, a dryer is still a highly valuable appliance for this family. We’ll be buying a new one come October. So, I’m looking for recommendations. Let me know what you have and its pros and cons. We’d love to convert to natural gas, but where our laundry room is located won’t work, so we’ll have to stick with electric.

Thanks for reading and commenting! I’ll respond soon. I need to go get the clothes off the line!

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Backyard Chickens & Ducks: Adding to the brace

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River, front, and Jayne, back, in their pool, while Joe tries to look without looking.

Brace. Did you know that a group of ducks on land, especially domesticated ones, is called a brace? Yep. See the interesting things you learn when you become an urban farmer?

As the headline asserts, we’ve gotten a couple of more ducks. We’re really fortunate to live where we live and we have a great “farming” resource in a place down the road called Baxter Barn.

We went there after running errands just because we were passing by and thought we’d “shop” to see if there were some adult ducks to be had. We only planned on gathering research, but before we knew it we were bringing a crested duck and magpie duck home.

Vera wants to know who these new chicks are.

Vera wants to know who these new chicks are.

We quickly took over a space in the chicken’s day run to keep the new ducks close to Joe and Vera (our original resident Pekin drake and duck), but also keep them separated. Separation seemed confusing to me at first, but Joe stuck his head through the fence and got a hold of the crested ducks tuft almost immediately. He hasn’t “attacked” them since, trying only to woo them, obviously. Vera, at times, seems jealous, but still “talks” to her new roommates.

River and Jayne are becoming fast sisters from different mothers.

River and Jayne are becoming fast sisters from different mothers.

The gray crested has been named Jayne and the magpie duck has been called River. We’ve had them now for two weeks and in another two we can begin to give them some time with their new family. They are more skittish than Joe and Vera ever were/are (even after the predator attack and the daily dose of human medical attention). But this morning I noticed they were less worried when I brought their feed and freshened their water.

Vera is laying regularly again after the predator attack and our evenings are cooling off a bit more. The new ducks have not lain yet; but they are just settling in. So, we’re patiently waiting. The idea of having 3 duck eggs a day will be fabulous. I love using them to bake with and making Frittata. They make my breads, cakes, and other desserts so moist and fluffy and the frittatas are so light and airy.  When Vera wasn’t laying my baking wasn’t the same.

Vera's first egg after her post-predator attack break. The chickens tried to out do her. But she's back in the swing.

Vera’s first egg after her post-predator attack break. The chickens tried to out do her. But she’s back in the swing.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Joe & Vera and River & Jayne get along once we can let them all hang together.

Stay tuned to see/read more as we get them bonded together as a whole brace.

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Harvest Creations: Gardening to Do for August

This is what the front of my home looks like, Aug. 6, 2014.

This is what the front of my home looks like, Aug. 6, 2014.

I have been so busy that I nearly missed that a new month was upon us. I’ve been harvesting something nearly every day. I’ve weeded the garden two times over now (and the north-facing south flower bed along the outer property reaches is screaming for my attention in that department now). Such a flow will continue, harvest, weed, water, pest control, harvest, weed, and water again. However, I also get to start planting some of the fall veggies, like another row of broccoli (we eat whatever I harvest almost immediately, and I’d like to be able to freeze some for the off-season), and some winter lettuces, and more carrots, and parsnips, and whatever else I can think of before it’s too late.

The original raised bed that started this crazy Grow Food Not Lawns effort. Now ready for successive planting.

The original raised bed that started this crazy Grow Food Not Lawns effort. Now ready for successive planting.

How did I do on July’s list? I amazingly got it all done, save the two rose bushes. It’s just not rose bush season. But I have cuttings from a friend’s rose bush and I hope they actually begin to bloom. If it takes until next spring to get the others in, so be it.

So far I’ve canned peppers, salsa verde, rainbow salsa, blackberry jam, strawberry jam, and vegetable broth. I need more jars to get me through August.

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Lessons learned:  I need to make a planting plan for next year that reflects our resources here and where to plant what. The northeast corner of the big Grow Food, Not Lawns bed is overcrowded. Although, if you look at the photo from June, it seemed there was lots of space. Nope. Also, I need to keep plants that need lots of water on one side and those that need less on the other, so I can target water. I also learned that I likely won’t plant leeks again, at least without making more of an effort to plant them. They were an impulse plant, and I got marginal results. The strawberries are doing great this year and we’ll give them an even larger plot next year. Also, we are very much sold on Uncle Ian’s pest control. We had elk come to the property the other night and they seemed to be deterred. We put more Uncle Ian’s down to make sure they don’t come back and will do so for the next five nights. I would like to find out either how to make this myself or buy it in bulk, especially given since my land has no fences (much to my chagrin, but my spouse likes the “open” feel to no fences).

Sir Elk came to visit. He didn't nibble. I keep putting Uncle Ian's repellent down (dried blood and red pepper) to keep them away and/or just keep walking.

Sir Elk came to visit. He didn’t nibble. I keep putting Uncle Ian’s repellent down (dried blood and red pepper) to keep them away and/or just keep walking.

August’s List:

Keep up rose cuttings for spring

Move flowers from north-facing south bed to south facing driveway bed

Weed

Harvest

Water

Pest Control

Get more canning jars

Plant fall veggies (Parsnips, broccoli, winter lettuce, successive carrots, maybe cabbage)

Mulch as necessary

augrhubarb

Been a bumper-crop year for rhubarb.

augcukes

The cucumbers are finally taking off.

Well there’s much to do gardening wise. Tell me what you’ve learned from your own efforts? Have you started a small plot? What are you interested in knowing about growing your own food? Comment below and we’ll talk some dirt. ;)

augwildgreenbed

My Wild Green Bed is still holding on.

Peppers going gangbusters.

Peppers going gangbusters.

 

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