A Touch of Sun Kissed Nectarine Preserves

– johanna | August 24th, 2012

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Treats, THE BOOKSHELF, THE BUDGET PANTRY, THE GARDEN

There is something so rewarding about reaching in to my pantry for a jar of homemade jam. Last summer I made certain to stock the pantry well. We ran out of jam in the spring. So I made double batches of strawberry, raspberry, and nectarine. The jam lasted us well into this summer.

For raspberry jam see the post Beginners Raspberry Jam 101.

Making jam can seem daunting at first. But after a couple of tries the fear subsides. It is always easier to make jam for the first time with a friend. Preferably someone who has some experience. So grab a buddy and a bushel of fruit before the season is over.

Source: PickYourOwn.org
Equipment:
Large canning pot, with insert
Small sauce pan for sterilizing lids
Large pot for cooking the jam in
Jar funnel
Canning Tongs
Ladle
4-5 sterilized 1/2 pint jars with lids and rings

4 cups of peeled, pitted, and chopped nectarines or peaches (about 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
7 cups sugar
1 package powdered Pectin

Fill canning pot, sauce pan, and stock pot with water. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, wash jars, rings, and lids.

Lower the temperature of the canning pot to a simmer. Set jars in canning pot.
until ready to use.

Put the lids in a small sauce pan with water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Leave the lids in the hot water until ready to use.

Wash the fruit removing any mushy fruit, stems and leaves. Cut a shallow X on the bottom of each nectarine. Place fruit in the boiling water of the stock pot. Let process for a minute (if ripe) or longer (if unripe). Drain water. Pour ice cold water and ice gently over nectarines. Cover with a lid for 1 to 2 minutes. The skins should easily peel off.

Remove the nectarines from the pot. Rinse pot.
Cut fruit into quarters and dice. Place back in stock pot. Mash fruit slightly leaving some whole bits.

Combine nectarines, pectin, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat (stirring often to prevent burning). Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a boil (it continues to boil even when stirred). Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Turn off heat and remove from stove. Remove jars and lids from the water and place on a clean dish towel.

Skim off any foam from the top of the jam. (*Use the sugary foam to sweeten popsicles or smoothies.)

Place the funnel in the mouth of a jar. Use the ladle to pour hot jam into prepared jars; filling up no higher than 1/4-inch from the top of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar with a warm wet cloth or paper towel to remove any syrup.

Cap with the lid and screw on the ring. Return the filled jars to the canning pot of water. Adjust the water level to cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Return the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and process (boil) for 10 minutes. (**boil longer if at higher altitude*)

Turn off the heat. Carefully remove the lid. Use the canning tongs to remove the jars from the water bath. The lids should immediately make popping sounds. This indicates that the jars are sealing. Test each lid by pressing down in the middle of the lid. If there is a slight bump that is raised and pops back up when pressed, the jar is not sealed. Let the jar sit for an hour. If the jar has not sealed store the jar in the refrigerator. Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry.

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How To Quick Soak Beans

– johanna | November 8th, 2011

Filed under: KITCHEN SCIENCE, THE BOOKSHELF, THE BUDGET PANTRY

Photo: Source Unavailable

There are two ways to buy beans; in the can or dried. The can is great because first of all the natural chemical in the bean’s coating, that is known to give us gas, is lessened during processing. Secondly, canned is a straight shot into the pot or salad.

The benefit of using dried beans is you control what goes into them. The downside to cooking with dried beans is the need to soak them. Soaking rehydrates the bean. Hydration is necessary to cut down on cooking time while preserving all the rich nutrients. Otherwise the beans will cook unevenly, the skins will slip off and you will have a giant soupy, mushy mess on your hands. Soaking is also used to clean the beans of pesticides, bug larva, and any other contaminates attached to the beans.

Soaking Overnight: (the best way to soak beans)
1. Clean the beans under cool tap water, removing damaged beans, debris and rocks.
2. Place beans in a non-reactive bowl, preferably glass.
3. Cover beans with three times the amount of water. (About 3-4 inches above layer of beans)
4. Cover and let sit for at least 4 hours or overnight. In warm weather refrigerate beans to prevent sprouting.
5. Drain the water. Rinse well.
6. Cover with water by 2 inches. Cook 30 minutes to 1 hour, until tender.
7. Proceed with recipe. Drain.

Quick Soak:
1. Clean the beans under cool tap water, removing damaged beans, debris and rocks.
2. Place beans in a stock pot.
3. Fill with three times water, about 3-4 inches above the layer of beans. (about 5 cups water per 1 cup beans.)
4. Bring to a boil. Boil beans in water for 3 minutes.
5. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside for 2 to 4 hours.
6. Drain water. Rinse beans and pot well.
7. Add fresh water. Cook until tender 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain.
8. Proceed with recipe.

Pressure Soak: (for more easily digestible beans)
1. Clean the beans under cool tap water, removing damaged beans, debris and rocks.
2. Place beans in a pressure cooker.
4. Cover beans by 3 inches of water. Bring to pressure. Process 5 minutes.
5. Remove from heat; let pressure drop naturally.
6. Drain water. Rinse well.
7. Cover with water by 2 inches. Cook 30 minutes to 1 hour, until tender.
8. Proceed with recipe.

Favorite beans recipes:
White Bean Soup
Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Chicken Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

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Vanilla Nectarine Jam

– johanna | September 23rd, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Snacks, THE BUDGET PANTRY, THE GARDEN

August and September is stone fruit season. Our little tree in the backyard had a nice bumper crop of nectarines last year. I scarcely knew what to do with them all. This year, sadly our little tree developed curl leaf in the spring. My plan to can nectarine jam this summer was thwarted.

One day while at Stephen’s parents house, their neighbor brought over a hefty supply of nectarines. I took several pounds home with me to make into jam. Trying to decide which recipe to use was quite a chore. I settled on this recipe with vanilla and a more traditional recipe.

This recipe for vanilla nectarine jam is more like a chutney. It is thick and lighter in color. It lacks the glossy brightness of a classic jam. I found it an amazing compliment to chicken or pork. Just add a little cinnamon and butter or light oil and bake.

Source: Canning for a New Generation
Equipment:
Large canning pot, with insert
Large stock pot
Jar funnel
Tongs
Ladle
4-5 sterilized 1/2 pint jars with lids and rings

3 pounds ripened nectarines
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 whole vanilla bean

Fill both canning pot and stock pot with water. Bring to a boil.

Wash jars and lids. Set jars in canning pot with simmering water until ready to use. Put the lids in a small sauce pan with water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Leave the lids in the hot water until ready to use.

Wash the fruit removing any mushy fruit, stems and leaves. Cut a shallow X on the bottom of each nectarine. Place fruit in the boiling water in the stock pot. Let process for a minute (if ripe) or longer (if unripe). Drain water. Pour ice cold water and ice over gently over nectarines. Cover with a lid for 1 to 2 minutes. The skins should easily peel off.

Remove the nectarine from the pot. Rinse pot.
Cut fruit into quarters and dice. Place back in stock pot. Mash fruit slightly leaving some whole bits.

Combine nectarines, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla; bring to a boil over high heat.

Boil for at least 5 minutes to thicken. The jam is ready when a candy themometer reads about 220.

* To Test: place a spoon in the freezer. Dip the spoon into the jam. Set on an ice cube to cool. If the jam begins to conceal it is done.

Turn off heat and remove from stove.

Remove jars and lids from the water and place on a towel.

Skim off any foam from the top of the jam. (Use the sugary foam to sweeten popsicles or smoothies.)

Place the funnel in the mouth of a jar. Use the ladle to pour hot jam into prepared jars; filling up no higher than a 1/4-inch from the top of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar with a warm wet cloth or paper towel to remove any syrup.

Cap with the lid and screw on the ring. Return the filled jars to the pot of water. Adjust the water level to cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and process (boil) for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the jars from the water bath. (Let sit overnight on a towel.) The lids should immediately make popping sounds. This indicates that the jars are sealed. Test each lid by pressing down in the middle of the lid. If there is a slight bump that is raised and pops back up when pressed, the jar is not sealed. Store the jar in the refrigerator. Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry.

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October Website Review: On Being Frugal

– johanna | October 5th, 2010

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF, THE BUDGET PANTRY, THE ORGANIZED HOME

This month’s website review covers several websites. I am sure there are thousands of fabulous sites that offer the latest in coupons and deals. These are just a few of my favorites from this year. I use them all. It takes me about an hour to write up my weekly dinner menu and comb the coupon sites, grocery store site and local advertisements for deals.

If you are new to clipping coupons, just curious or even a veteran this story “If I Didn’t See It With My Own Eyes” by Jaye Watson, will take you on a step by step journey on how to get the most for your buck.

The following websites offer coupons, giveaways as well as tips on the trade.

My Frugal Adventures

Becentsable

Money Saving Mom

Coupon Cooking

Hip 2 Save

Coupon Cravings

True Couponing

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Potatoes and Asparagus Omelet

– johanna | July 9th, 2010

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Snacks, THE BUDGET PANTRY, THE CRAFT CLOSET

On Saturday or Sunday morning I like to make omelets as a way to use up left over vegetables. Ideally to make this recipe for potatoes and asparagus omelets use precooked cubed potatoes and steamed asparagus to cut down on cooking time. If leftovers are not available blanch the asparagus and potatoes in boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Our potatoes and asparagus omelet also makes for a tasty comfy dinner entree. Use 5 egg whites and 1 whole egg for a low cholesterol version.

2 small red potatoes, chopped into 1-inch bite sized cubes
1/2 cup chopped 1-inch pieces asparagus
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
6 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 thin ham slices, chopped
Butter
Salt and pepper
Salsa

In a bowl whisk eggs together until well blended. Set aside.

Saute potatoes and asparagus in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until browned and caramelized. Season with salt, pepper and cilantro. Reduce heat to medium.

Pour whisked eggs over vegetables in pan. Once the egg starts to set gently lift one edge with a spatula and tilt the pan so the uncooked egg runs underneath. Repeat all around the pan until most of the omelet is set with a small amount of uncooked egg on top. Carefully use a spatula to flip the omelet over and turn off heat. Sprinkle with ham slices and cheese. Flip one side of the omelet over folding in half. Remove from heat. Top with a dollop of salsa and serve. Makes 2

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How to Make Turkey Stock

– johanna | November 20th, 2009

Filed under: KITCHEN SCIENCE, RECIPES - Soup / Salad, THE BUDGET PANTRY

basic turkey stock

Photo by: Chow.com

When I make soups I use a product I buy at Costco called Better Than Bullion. Basically it is stock that has been boiled down into a concentrated paste. I like it better than bullion or canned broth but it does not compare to the real stuff. I made a pot roast the other day and saved the juices to make beef stew. It was ten times better than anything from a can. Stock can be made using the drippings from a roast pan or by boiling the leftover turkey or chicken carcasses.

To make turkey stock:

– De-bone the turkey by removing all the meat from the bones.

– Chop up the turkey to fit in a large pot. Cover with water about 1-inch or so above the turkey. Bring the water to a boil then turn down the heat to low; cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. Occasionally skim the foam from the top.

Variations:
– Strain the broth into a large bowl or container using a thin kitchen cloth or cheese cloth placed on a strainer. Let cool. Skim the fat from the top. Freeze. This version does not have much flavor. It is best used in soups.

– Once the water has simmered for an hour add chopped onions, carrots, celery with the leaves, whole garlic cloves, parsnips, thyme, parsley and peppercorns. This version has flavor and can be used in soups, sauces or in anything else chicken or turkey stock is called for.

– Add the turkey neck and giblets to the pot with the turkey.

Should make about 3-4 quarts of stock.

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At Home Vacations and Nickle and Dime Get-a-ways

– johanna | April 3rd, 2009

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF, THE BUDGET PANTRY

In February, the local schools were out for Presidents week. The mother hen that I am, I loved having Mason home. We enjoyed sleeping in, staying up late, a morning in the mountains playing in the snow, a visit from Grandma and Grandpa, stomping in mud puddles and bike rides to the park on the days it was not raining.

Spring Break is coming up and like most families watching their cash, we want make the most of the week on very little spending. I learned about some really great ideas from the Family Fun website, Woman’s Day Magazine and other moms in the area for fun activities and adventures that will not break the bank.

At-home summer camp: Give each day a theme. Monday is park day, Tuesday is library day, Wednesday is swimming, Thursday is trip day- visit the zoo, go up the canyon for a hike, or some other fun activity. Friday is jar day- Write activities (bake cookies, jump on the trampoline, take a bath, play game, write a story, call a friend to play with) on slips of paper and place in a jar. Whatever they draw out, they need to do for at least a half hour.

Souvenirs: Kids mostly remember the special treats and souvenirs. If you plan on staying home, give the kids a little spending money. Take the kids out for a treat one evening. Going grocery shopping? Let them pick out a souvenir. It could be candy, a magazine or a pretty bar of soap.

The Plaza Hotel: Ever thought of getting into the Bed and Breakfast business? Now you can. Have the kids book a room at home. Complete with turn down service and a chocolate or an origami towel on the pillow. Make a mom and dad do not disturb sign. Create a room service breakfast menu with check off boxes. Clear the counter off and leave mini soaps and folded towels.

A Night Out: Fancy a little night life? Pull out the board games. Work on a puzzle. Watch a movie. Play glow in the dark volleyball or ghost in the graveyard.

Act like tourists: Take public transportation or walk.

Send Postcards: Buy or make postcards and send them to loved ones near or far.

Buy vacation food: Purchase single serving cereal boxes.

Back yard camping trip: Set up the tent in the backyard. Grab flashlights, the Coleman and a cooler of food and drinks. Tell stories and roast marshmallows just as you would on a camping trip.

Host an iron man chef contest: Host a family cook off.

Neighborhood Attractions: Take advantage of the best your state has to offer in your own backyard by spending the day carousing nearby cities and/or landmarks. Choose a different destination each day, returning home to sleep at night. Enjoy fishing, hiking, river rafting, whale watching, national parks, dinner cruises, the beach, an amusement park, museums, water parks, cave exploration, the zoo, historical tourist stops. Grab breakfast at home and do not forget to pack a cooler with snacks and lunch. Visit Trip Advisor for ideas on locales just  tank of gas .

Timeshares and camping: Book a timeshare or go camping. Both options are cheaper than a hotel stay and because the kitchen is on site you save on the cost of meals. Camp sites usually run from $16 dollars to $25 dollars a night. With the economy upside down a friend of mine says you can snag a timeshare for $200 a week.

Farm Stays: Ever wonder what life is like on a farm? Now you can get in the thick of things with a “haycation“. Dine on meals made with fresh picked food. Help gather eggs and milk a cow. Take a horse ride. Both working and non-working farms provide accommodations be it a room in the main farmhouse or a cabin located on the land. Farm stays can vary from bed and breakfast to dude ranch to actually lending a hand with the chores on the farm.

Airfare: Register with Airfare Watch Dog to get rock bottom steals on airfare tickets. A friend of mine purchased 2 round trip tickets to Iowa for $400 versus the $700 per ticket going rate. My sister found tickets from Florida to Califorina for under $200.

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Hold the Crust Please

– johanna | March 23rd, 2009

Filed under: THE BUDGET PANTRY

I had an Epiphany while making PB&J Sandwiches for lunch. As I stood there staring at the pile of wasted bread crusts (the kids do not like to eat the crust), I thought this is almost two and a half slices of bread about to be thrown into the garbage. My mom always told us to eat our crusts, because it makes your hair curly. It was a saying passed down from her father who loved the crust best of all. “Back in my day…” untouched food on the plate usually elicited a comment like “eat your greens, there are starving kids in China.”  Or something like “Waste not, want not.”

What I should have done, was cut the crust off before spreading the peanut butter and jelly and used it for croutons or bread crumbs. With stopping the waste on my mind, I saved the leftover half eaten bananas from breakfast and used them in a banana smoothie at snack time. I try to freeze extra fruit and vegetables before they go bad, especially blueberries and strawberries, which we use to make smoothies. Once I tried to compost from leftover food scraps, it ended in a fly-infested mess. Making a compost pile is not as easy as it sounds. Most of the time, I try to scale down recipes or try to turn a leftover into something else. Stephen refuses to eat leftovers and some leftovers are not as good the next day.

The teacher’s aide at Mason’s school uses up vegetables by throwing them in a pot for soup, or roasts them with some meat. My mom used to make her version of tootsie rolls from pie dough scraps. My brother told me about some friends of ours who continuously used the same enormous pickle jar by adding fresh mini cucumbers to the brine. Love Food Hate Waste is a site dedicated to helping the community become more mindful of what we throw away and how to use what we have. The Kitchn suggested using a magnetic whiteboard on the fridge. Every time they buy produce, they write it down. As it gets used up, erase it from the board. Also, write down any leftovers in the fridge.

A friend’s mom once asked me to help her make a menu using a list of food items. A college student at the time, I took great care to make sure every ounce of the food I picked would be used up. She laughed when she saw my final draft noting it looked boring. Where was the variety? I was thinking as a budget-minded college student, which is probably the mindset we should have when planning our meals. Planning meals around each other ensures we use every cent spent and it is less likely the food will go to waste. Every item has a purpose. It is just as important when making a shopping list to write down the exact amount of ingredients needed. Check the freezer, pantry and refrigerator first. Why spend the extra cash on something you already have. When planning a weekly menu keep in mind, if you like to eat out one or two nights a week, only plan dinners for five or six nights.

I learned a valuable lesson during our last move. 1. It is easy to stockpile goods and 2. There are at least four to six meals hidden away in the freezer, refrigerator and pantry.

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Text Before You Buy With Google

– johanna | February 19th, 2009

Filed under: THE BUDGET PANTRY

The next time you are out shopping and wonder if you are getting a good deal send a text message to Google at 466453. The service is free although carrier text message fees may apply. Text the name of the item, the price and the product code. Google will text you back a list of stores and their price fore the same item. Simply go to Google Mobile link to get started.

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Beef – Is on the Menu….All Week!

– johanna | January 27th, 2009

Filed under: THE BUDGET PANTRY

Earlier in the month I bought a package of steaks and pork chops. Somehow the packages ended up in the freezer before they were divided up and sealed. Needless to say they had to be used before frost bite set in. I had four huge steaks thawing in the refrigerator and here is what I made with them. On Taco Tuesday we had steak fajitas. Asian style Friday was Broccoli Beef Stir-fry. The next night Salad Saturday a  steak salad with grilled vegetables. Lunch the next day, steak sandwiches.

My steak and potato boys definately had their fill. It is not often that we have beef. What a shame it had to be consumed all in one week.

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