Beet Sugar

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So, I finally, got around to making beet sugar out of some of my beets. I dug them back in November just before it got really cold.

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Got about a bushel full out of my little patch. I was amazed at the size of most of them! I didn’t get out and thin them like I had hoped too, but there were still many good sized beets!

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The chickens really enjoyed the greens.

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Long ago, I learned that if you leave some dirt on root veggies, put them in a plastic bag with a little splash of water in them and stick them in the fridge, they will keep indefinitely. The dirt and the water make them think they are still in the ground so they continue to grow at a very slow rate.

Yesterday. I brought 1/2 of them in. There were a few bad spots, but not many. I soaked them in a vinegar/water bath in my sink and then scrubbed them up.

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In the posts that I read, I didn’t see anything about peeling them, but I did peel them at the top where the leaves had once been because i didn’t feel like I could scrub the dirt out of them enough

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Then I put them in the food processor to shred them.

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It made a lot of shredded beets!

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I put them in a big pot and simmered them for a few hours. The directions I read said I only needed to do this for about an hour, but it was keeping my house warm ๐Ÿ˜‰

Before I went to bed, I strained them by lining a colander and poured every thing through it and put all of it in the fridge to continue draining.

This m0rning, I fed the beet pulp to the chickens and put the liquid on the stove to simmer and warm up my house.

It boiled down for several hours. Then, I brought it to a boil and kept stirring it down as I prepared supper.

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When it thickened to a syrup consistency, I put it in a jar.

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Just 1/2 a spaghetti sauce jar, but it tastes like heaven!

End of Season Ramblings

We’ve decided we won’t be opening at the farm in October. We will continue to go to Lomax on Wednesday evenings and if anyone wants anything, I’m making deliveries to Nauvoo on Mondays around the noon hour.

I’ve been letting Grampa Tom go to most of the markets by himself so I could get stuff doneย  before he went into the fields.

Here’s an old trike that I planted in my new peppermint patch. That thing has been driving me nuts! It doesn’t work, but every child who comes here insists on riding it. Grampa Tom has been saying he was going to scrap it out for years now. There comes a time when a girl just has to take matters into her own hands! Can’t wait till next year when I can sit some flowers on it ๐Ÿ™‚

And I’ve been piddling around the house. Actually found my living room and kitchen. Now I have to organize the disaster that is my store room that has spilled over and taken possession of the grandkids bedroom as well.ย  Normally, I keep the kids room accessible, but when we had to rearrange the entire house to get the hospital bed in, everything got shoved in there and it has been accumulating ๐Ÿ™

I’ve been harvesting and drying quite a few herbs.
This is my stevia. Yes that is a shower curtain. Don’t worry. That bathroom hasn’t worked since the pipes broke when we were pretending to be snowbirds several years ago. It’s mostly just and extra storage closet now.

Stevia doesn’t put out a great deal of fragrance, but this holy basil has the whole house smelling wonderful! Yes, I know, some of it has flowered. I like the flowers. They are pretty and they taste good! I’m betting they will make an awesome oil as well.

I’ve been experimenting with making massage oils with my herbs and olive oil. So far, I’ve been very pleased with the results. Our friend David heard about what I was doing and offered me several thousand little spray bottles to package them in. That should do me for quite a while ๐Ÿ™‚

This week’s goals: Start teaching/babysitting my grandkids. I’ll try to post some of our activities on my Almost Unschooling Grama blog, pull a ton of weeds, pick my dried beans, dig more potatoes (still have several rows), study more on how to be professional about this blogging thing (I feel like a kindergartner who only knows how to count to 3), straighten the store room and kids room, build a fence around the new garden space I am making south of the deck, bring home more clay blocks from the neighbor’s house … yeah, that’s how I roll …

God Bless You All!
~Grama Sue

Pumpkins?

Look at my pumpkin haul!
Oh wait a minute, they aren’t actually pumpkins ๐Ÿ˜‰

They are actually miniature Japanese eggplants! These cute little pumpkins … egg plants are sliced and used in Japanese stir fries, but most folks here use them for fall decorations. You will probably find them in a seed catalog as pumpkin on a stick. They dry very nicely and last a long time.

We have them at the farm this week: a pint box for $1 or we can go out and cut you a fresh stick with pumpkins attached for $1.

God Bless You All!
~Grama Sueย 

Chicken Booby Traps

Went out to cut lettuce the other day and this is what I found!
Grrrrr … DURN chickens!
Decided to booby trap what was left of my crop with plastic forks. Got the idea a few days ago from Listotic’s website, which I promptly pinned! If this works, I’m buying a lot more plastic forks ๐Ÿ™‚
God Bless You All!
~Grama Sue
P.S. This was a total fail! Don’t bother!
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Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

Been keeping my crock pot busy lately ๐Ÿ™‚
During the summer, I wash my excess tomatoes in a vinegar bath. Then I cut the stems and bad spots out of and throw them in the freezer. I used to blanch and skin them before putting them in the freezer, but a few years ago I found out that if you put them in the freezer without skinning them, the skins come right off when they start to thaw. Why should you put all that heat in your house in the summer?
Anyway, during the winter I pull them out and make all sorts of goodies. This winter, I found a crock pot tomato sauce recipe, but since I rarely start with just a plain tomato sauce, I decided I might as well go ahead and add the ingredients to make spaghetti sauce. I’ve also been making ketchup … but that’s another post.
To begin with, I fill the crock pot with tomatoes and let it cook overnight so the volume is about half what I started with.
The next day I add:
one chopped onion
two handfuls of dried sweet peppers
2 tsp salt
2 cap fulls of lemon juice
a tablespoon of minced garlic
2 tbs of dried basil
one tbs dried oregano
and enough tomatoes to fill the crock pot again.
I let this cook overnight again and then puree it with my stick wand.
I hot pack the sauce in pint jars and give them a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
This makes about 4 pints of sauce I think, but we always have to have spaghetti or pizza or something the day it is finished, so I’m not quite sure ๐Ÿ™‚
Yum, yum!
God Bless You All!
~Grama Sue

Apple Peel Jelly

Woohoo! I seem to be among the living today ๐Ÿ™‚ Woke up at 10:30 this morning. Can’t remember the last time I slept that late. Really needed it! Did a sleeping around job last weekend. I’m not used to it anymore and it has taken all week to recover from the jet lag.

(For those who may be new to this blog, I spend nights with elderly people who need help from time to time and I like to mess with people’s minds.)

Was planning to post on apple peel jelly last weekend, but I’ve been in a bad brain fog. Better late than never huh? It’s only been 3 weeks since I started drying apples and told you all I was planning to make apple peel jelly so here goes:

To start with I saved the peels and cores from my dried apple project.
I boiled them for about an hour and then strained them through a tea towel.
The red from the apple peels made the towel look yucky, but it made the prettiest juice!
Then I measured out 4 cups of juice and 2 cups of honey. The recipe I found called for equal parts of juice and sugar, but honey is about twice as sweet as sugar so I reduced the 1:1 ratio to 2:1.
I cooked the juice/honey mixture down for about an hour because honey doesn’t set up as easily as sugar. Then I brought the mixture up to 220 degrees by bringing it to a rolling boil for several minutes while stirring constantly.
ย Then I poured it in jars.
And put hot lids and rims on. Yes! Those are Tattler lids there ๐Ÿ™‚ I finally took the plunge. This was my first time trying them out. They didn’t seal with the first batch. I think I may have tipped them bringing them out of the canner so some of the jelly got under the lid, but the second batch did fine. I’m so excited to have reusable lids for my personal stash! They cost too much to use if I may not get them back, so for gifts and markets, I’ll continue to use the metal one-time lids.
After a 5 minute boiling water bath, I started hearing pop, pop, pop! What a beautiful sound!ย 
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Guess what people are getting for Christmas this year?
God Bless You All!
~Grama Sue

Aloe Vera Cream

This is the mamma that started it all. Years ago, my friend Gwen gave me a tiny Aloe Vera plant from her gigantic one. This grand lady is prolific and so are her offspring. I’ve sold literally hundreds of babies at the markets and this winter, as usual, I’ve got a farm in my window waiting for the spring markets to start.
Today, as I was tending to my little Aloe farm, I pruned several leaves. I’ve been wanting to make some moisturizing cream forever now, so I decided this would be the day.
I looked up several sites about how to make your own creams and lotions and set to work. I was a little skeptical about how it would turn out, but I persevered!
The first step was to harvest the Aloe gel. To do this you first cut along the side of the leaf with a sharpe knife.
Then open the leaf to expose the soft jelly inside.
Use the back side of the knife to scrape the jelly-like substance off the green part of the leaf.
Once I had this egg white consistancy substance gathered into a container, I tried to pick out most of the green leaf that was left. It’s about as easy as getting broken egg shell out of an egg white. I gave up at one point and decided just to forge ahead. It was an experiment after all!
Then I made a double broiler of sorts with an old pan and a jar. I didn’t want to use anything good because I was a little afraid of the wax I’d be adding to it, but it turned out not to be a problem.
I added an equal amount of coconut oil and a little bit of shaved beeswax and boiled it all until it was all liquid.
Once everything was melted, I removed the jar from the boiling water and used my stick wand on it as it cooled. I was a little afraid of adding to much beeswax, so I had only added a small amount. It didn’t set up very well, so I added more and returned it to the boiling water. I probably ended up using a 2 or 3 tablespoons full of shaved wax by the time I was done, but I didn’t measure cause that’s how I roll.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the result of this “experiment”. I wound up with a beautifully creamy substance that feels just awesome! It’s probably a little to greasy feeling for Grampa Tom, but I love it!
God Bless You All!
~Grama Sue

Dired Apples And Apple Peel Jelly

Got up at 6am on Saturday morning and started working on apples. I made applesauce, dried apples and apple peel juice for apple peel jelly. I wanted to do this on Friday because I generally need 2 days in a row to finish applesauce, but Grampa Tom got all excited because I told him I was going to get rid of the ancient desk top computer when the copier from my assessing job went bye-bye.
He asked what I was going to do with the computer desk it was on. He wanted it for his TVย in the man cave. This sent me on a major excavation detour. First, I had to gather up and transport all the assessing files, equipment and supplies. Next, I had to unload the computer desk and clear out the corner in the TV room where the computer table would be going to. Then I had to clear out the hall where my grandfather’s desk had been stuck years ago in order to get it out to the living room to replace the computer table … My whole house wound up looking like this:
I left the picture blurry on purpose. It depicts my feelings about the entire mess and the clear picture would be just too scary! But I did wind up with a nice functional workspace that even has a home for my sewing machine that has been homeless for more than a year!
To bad there are still 3 big piles of stuff I need to go through! My goals for next week? Find the futon, the couch and my kitchen table and finish the apples … Oh, apples … that’s where I was going with this wasn’t it?
See how badly I can get distracted? It’s all Grampa Tom’s fault.
So I got my applesauce in the roaster and 3 dryers full of apple slices done. Yes, the little dryer does have duct tape on it ๐Ÿ™‚
I also fixed lunch and put 6 butternut squashes in the freezer. Grampa Tom came in from his early winter nap at about 3 pm and claimed to have done the dishes that morning … Hmft! No trace of evidence that any such thing had happened in my kitchen!
It’s 9pm on Sunday as I write this. The apples have dried. The applesauce is still in the fridge waiting to be smushed. The apple peels are also there, draining their juice into a pan for jelly. There is still about a bushel of apples left to go.
I’ve never heard of apple peel jelly before, but I’ve been running across posts about it lately, so I thought I’d try it. I’ll do a post later to let you know how it turned out. I did a post on making applesauce a couple of years ago. You can check it out here: Making Applesauce
Until I can sneak in another post in the midst of this chaos!
God Bless You All!
ย 
Grama Sue