The Virus Has Not Stopped Spring!

This has been a busy week.  A friend, whose Mother is in a local nursing home, sent out a call for seamstresses to make face masks for the staff.  I have leftover fabric from quilt making and the blessings of You Tube provided the instructions so I’ve been called into action.  I’ll go into more detail later.  Sliced bread is sold out as quick as toilet paper here so we’ve been making our own.  Yesterday I made a recipe for sandwich bread but it was too crumbly for my liking so I’ll need to research what went wrong and try again.

John has been getting out of confinement to check for fish at the creek which runs behind our property.  While I was planning to start breadmaking, he rushes in and tells me to buy a fishing license online because the fish are biting in a big way.  Every cast is a sand bass on the line.  So off we went.  There is no limit on sand bass because they are so plentiful.  What a blessed way to fill our freezer!  We cut up 13 quarts of wonderful white fish.  I would rather eat fish than steak any day!  Like the Southern girl I am, it has to be fried in a half and half mixture of flour and cornmeal topped off with Lowry’s Seasoning salt.  I always make my own tartar sauce by dicing onions, pickles and mixing with Miracle Whip and again a little Lowry’s.

Later in the day, my sweetheart brought me this wildflower bouquet.  Wildflowers have a season here.  The first to arrive are what we call Sweet Williams and such a heavenly aroma they have.

We have a spot (secret) on our property where the Morel Mushrooms appear to let us know it’s Schroom Time Today two magically appeared.  My son and family are off to the woods right now to hunt for more.

The world is in chaos right now, but fish, Sweet Williams and Morels are a reminder from God that He is still in control.

 

Best Laid Plans

In a recent post, Life Has Changed On The Prairie I told how my son and daughter-in-law brought their rabbits when they had to move. The rabbit family has kept on growing and it was time to harvest and process. This time Sarah asked me if I would can them. I’ve canned chicken and the process is basically the same. I always rely on USDA guidelines for processing which can be found online. Please do not use blog sites or family as the final authority on instructions or processing times. It’s not worth the risk!

Sarah did the hard work of harvesting and deboning. She decided to can without the bone. I just got together all the equipment needed:

  1. Mirro Pressure Canner with weight, rubber gasket and canning rack
  2. Canning jars (no mayonnaise jars)
  3. Lids and rings
  4. Jar lifter
  5. Towel and wire grates to set hot jars after processing
  6. Large Deep pan

After reading the instructions, I determined the processing time was 90 minutes with a 10 pound pressure for our altitude. When Sarah started harvesting, I placed the jars in the dishwasher for washing and kept the jars in the heat cycle until we were ready to pack. The rabbit was put into the large pan filed with water and a brine ratio of 1 tablespoon canning salt per quart. This helps draw out the blood. If the rabbits were wild it would help remove the gamey taste.

I put about two inches of water in the pressure canner on low heat when the deboning began. Working with a pressure canner is really much easier than a water bath because you’re not working with a heavy canner filled with hot water.

Once the jars were loosely packed and lids and rings added they went into the canner. It’s important that the warm jars go into water that’s also warm to prevent glass breakage. After putting in 6 quart jars, we closed the lid and started the process known as venting. This is bringing up the heat to the point that a full head of steam is coming out the top vent for a period of 10 minutes. This helps remove all of the the air from the canner to get the correct temperature and pressure. The pressure “jiggler” is then put on the top of the canner.  The countdown begins.

Once I hear that “rockin and rollin” noise with the “jiggler”, I can start my 90 minute countdown.  Each pressure canner is different.  My instructions says it should jiggle 1 to 3 times per minute.  It’s important to go by your instructions so you can maintain proper pressure.  If you have a dial type canner, then the pressure is shown on the dial.  After 90 minutes, the fire is turned off and I wait 45 minutes before attempting to open the canner.  This allows the pressure to drop and it’s safe to open.

So far everything went as planned.  When I opened the canner, I was very saddened to see that one of the jars had broke!  I did inspect my jars but it’s possible there was a hairline crack.  I put the other jars on the counter to cool and seal until the next morning. I did check the lids before I went to bed and all had sealed.

The next morning, on closer inspection, I noticed one of the jars had a thin black line inside of the jar! I’ve never had that happen before so I immediately started checking online and couldn’t find any similar situation.  Even during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the local county Extension Agents were available, but working from home. A picture sent (see bottom middle picture) to the agent and I had my response the next day.  Because my seal was intact, she felt the line is a reflection of where the liquid level was either when the jars went into the canner or at some point during processing.  It was possible that it could be a combination of denatured proteins (a change in the structure of the protein). She felt the food was safe but recommended boiling for 11 minutes prior to tasting as an extra precaution.  If there was an off odor at any time, to discard the food.  I felt relieved with this information.  After losing one jar (one rabbit) to a broken jar, it’s tough to throw out another.  But better safe than sorry!

One might ask if all the work of canning and possible losses is worth it.  I still enjoy freezing food but when you’re busy it’s a blessing to have a healthy dinner in a jar.

 

Slow Down

Church services in our building have been cancelled today but I was able to watch online.  Our church has gone live on Facebook for quite a while.  There was quite a “crowd” today.

A friend of mine posted a call to a World Day of Prayer today from Noon to 1PM.  I believe in the power of prayer.  If you’re so led, please join.

Every generation has had it’s test.  My parents now known as “The Greatest Generation” lived thru the Great Depression and World War II. My generation, the Boomers have benefited from their great sacrifice.  It’s our turn to step up and be the example to our children and grandchildren.  Not panic, but faith and a can do spirit.

A couple of sayings have been coming out of my mouth this week that I heard from my Mother when I was growing up.  “Waste not, want not”, “If you can’t eat it or wear it, don’t buy it”, “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do or Do Without.” This could be the new mantra for our generation.

Praying for peace and health for my family and yours.

A New Twist on an Old Way

This paradigm shift we’re experiencing right now is forcing our family to think in new or rather old ways.  A few years back I purchased Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois for myself, my daughter-in-law and my best friend for Christmas.

Frugal person that I am, I purchased it from https://www.thriftbooks.com/share/?code=NeichQeK9l6gc0ie11qkdw%253d%253d  Ok, this is a shameless plug that will give you a 15% discount off their wonderful selection of books and give me a discount off my future orders.  Most of their books are under $4.00 and there is free shipping for orders $10 or more.  These are used books and you can pick the condition.  Most are in good condition.

When I purchased the book, I was very excited about having home baked bread that was not labor intensive and didn’t require an expensive bread machine.  Recipes include The Master Recipe, which is for enjoying an artisan loaf  every day and  so simple to make.  If you want to step it up a notch, there are recipes for pizza, flatbreads and pastries.

My daughter-in-law decided now was the time to dust off the book and start making daily fresh bread.  Yeah!  The less trips to the grocery store, the better. We had our first slice yesterday for lunch.  It’s slightly heavier than  store bought bread,  but still light enough that your family who only eats white Wonder Bread will love.  It’s also a healthy addition to your meal that is actually quite filling.

Our prayers are constantly with our country, our leaders and for those families who are  experiencing loss and sickness.  We’re trying to redeem the time.

redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16

 

 

 

Life Has Changed On The Prairie

Like everyone right now, we are faced with uncertainty mixed in with fear.  Taking action has added excitement and has helped to get our minds off dread of the virus and the future.

Our household now includes myself, my husband, my son and his wife and their 4 children, ages 12, 10, 7 and 5.  We have 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a large room additionSacred Spaces that was a back porch that we enclosed.  My son and his family were renting a two story, 4 bedroom, 2 bath home on 10 acres that was perfect for their large family.  Their family included 2 cats and a growing rabbit family.  Then one day all that changed in an instant.  During a repair of a plumbing leak under the kitchen sink, the repairman thought he saw black mold which extended into the upstairs bathroom.  Before long, they had to move out.  School had started and because we live in a very rural area, there is a shortage of rental homes, especially for large families.  So we adjusted.  Our back porch is now their living area and we have 4 small children in one bedroom, ala “The Waltons”.  Its been exciting, challenging and a blessing to be a part of their lives every day.

Our life has always included a bit of “prepping”.  That’s part of country life.  In Oklahoma we need to be prepared for tornadoes and for winter ice storms.  A few years back our electric was out for 14 days due to an ice storm.  Fortunately our generator saw us through.  When the news begin to cover the Covid-19 and it’s possible spread to us, I began to inventory what we may need.

  1.  Prescriptions- I ordered a 90 day supply for John and I.
  2.  Over the Counter meds-Everything from headache, stomach, first aid to allergy relief.
  3.  Canned goods.
  4.  Meats- this year we are fortunate to have more than usual.  We have a deer that was harvested last November, part of a beef from the year before and a pig that was purchased from a lady who attends our church.
  5.  Gardening seeds and supplies.  In recent years our vegetable garden has got smaller each year.  This year my son and daughter-in-law has suggested we have a real garden, one that will support us.
  6.   Baking supplies – Flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt
  7.  Cleaning supplies – Lysol spray, disinfectant wipes, bleach, hydrogen peroxide
  8.   Paper goods – We don’t hoard toilet paper but with a family of 8 we keep a pretty good supply on hand.  My D-I-L purchased flannel to make “family cloth” if needed when the tp supply runs out.
  9.  Fuel and oil for cars, tractor and generator.
  10.  Get the cellar cleaned and stocked for tornado season.

I have a small flock of egg laying chickens that we keep in a movable pen.  They are aging and egg production has slowed down.  Yesterday, my Daughter-in-law and I went to Atwoods, our local farm goods store,  to purchase chicks, starter feed, and feeding equipment.  My plan was to only buy about 12 but my son suggested we get about 20.  They are straight run so we probably will have extra roosters that can be used for chicken and dumplings.

School has let out until April 6th here.  My grandchildren’s school year ends the first week of May so we expect school will not start back until the fall.  D-I-L is planning to homeschool the remainder of the year and possibly next year.

I’m sure there are holes in our planning.  We just do what we can and trust God for everything.  This is uncharted times for our generation but I feel as a family and a nation we’ll be much stronger having gone through this together.  How has your family prepared and what are you doing to keep up your spirits?