2014 Canning Season Recipes

2014 Canning Season - so far, we've made salsa, spaghetti sauce, pickles and pickled green beans, freezer green beans, and sandhill plum jelly!  Recipes included in the post! | RaisingArrows.netThis year, we were blessed with abundant produce that was free or nearly free to us.  We had a small garden and very generous landlords.

I’ve admitted in the past that I am not a gardener.  I like to blame it on my sensory issues – there is nothing about playing in the dirt that intrigues me.  However, I REALLY like having fresh produce that WE grew.  So fun!  This year, we grew peas, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, green beans, and there are cantaloupe on the vine as we speak.

As for our generous landlords – they are an older couple who plant WAY more than they could ever eat (as in 60 tomato plants!).  They have sent tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and green beans our way in bucket-fulls!  And I am sure not going to waste it!

Tomatoes!

And then, to top it off, this has been a stellar year for the sandhill (or wild) plum!  These little beauties grow roadside and are usually free for the picking by whomever makes it there first!

sandhill plums

As promised last week in my Pregnancy Update, here are the recipes we’ve been using this canning season.

Sandhill Plum Jelly - Apparently, I’m one of the few sites out there with this recipe because this time of year, I get a lot of hits on this post.

2014 Canning Season - sandhill plum jelly, spaghetti sauce, pickled green beans, and more! | RaisingArrows.net

I mention in my plum jelly post how I was running my pulp through mesh with a spoon.  Well, thankfully, I found my sieve!  This isn’t the cleanest job in the world, but that tart jelly is oh so worth it!

Freezer Green Beans – Early on, we froze our green beans.  This is a nice, simple process that yields beautiful, bags full of bright green veggies!

1.  Wash your beans.
2.  Trim the stems off your beans and cut them in half.
3.  Blanch the beans in boiling water for 1 minute.
4.  Dunk in ice water for 1 minute.
5.  Pat dry (we used paper towels).
6.  Bag in “meal sized” freezer bags.  For our family, this means full 1 gallon bags, but that may be too much for your family.  Adjust accordingly.

Pickled Green Beans – As the season wore on, and the landlords had more and more and more green beans, my kids begged for pickled green beans instead of freezing them.  Now for some of you, the idea of pickled green beans seems pretty “out there”, but you really ought to try it!

You can use any pickle recipe, but this one is very similar to what we use for our pickled okra (when we have it) and has been a favorite for a very long time.  It includes dill, garlic and red pepper flakes, and ends up quite yummy.  By the way, if you ever want to hear my “angry okra” story, fell free to read all about it HERE.

Cucumber Pickles – We didn’t end up with very many cucumbers, so what we did end up with became pickles that went straight into our refrigerator.  When you do this, you really need to let them set in the refrigerator unopened for about a week (more would be ideal) to get the full flavor.  It was all we could do to wait a week, and they were gobbled up all in one setting!  The recipe we used came from Sheri Graham.

Salsa – When the tomatoes first started rolling in, we did up huge batches of our favorite salsa.

Fresh & Tasty Homemade Salsa - nothing like it! | RaisingArrows.net

This is a very chunky salsa with some surprising ingredients like balsamic vinegar and soy sauce!  The acid content in the salsa was plenty high enough to be able to water bath it (the only kind of canning I do), so we ended up doing about 3 gallons.

Later, we moved on to a less chunky salsa that we found HERE.  However, I don’t think either salsa is really going to be hot enough.  I need to put more heat in them next time.

Spaghetti Sauce – I had never canned spaghetti sauce, and frankly, we don’t use the stuff.  For years, we have simply used tomato sauce with spices in it.  That’s it.  However, I thought it would be nice to have some real homemade sauce for our italian meals, so I dug around for a recipe and came up with THIS ONE.

Canned spaghetti sauce

It was VERY tasty, but by the time we had done up a dozen quarts (plus the salsa we had already done), my kids (and myself) were sick of tomatoes.  I happened to mention on Facebook how we were all tired of peeling and seeding tomatoes, and my Facebook blew up with people chiming in saying they didn’t peel or de-seed their tomatoes and I shouldn’t either!  I was astounded.  I was under the impression this was a RULE.  So, when the landlords called and asked if I wanted yet another round of tomatoes, I exasperated my children by saying Yes…because I really wanted to try this little experiment!

Well, the truth is, I will be trying this little experiment later today.  HERE is the recipe I’m going to use. Now, I know the woman in the post freezes hers, but I will be adding some tomato paste (to thicken) and lemon juice (to up the acid content) and water bath them for 20 minutes.  I will also probably run them through the Vita-Mix…just in case people are pulling my leg about having the skins and seeds in there being ok.

Once I’m through the last of the tomatoes and the sandhill plums, we will be finished until apple season…which also looks like a bumper crop.  We buy seconds at a local orchard and turn them into all sorts of yummy treats!  We’ll be freezing slices for pie, making applesauce to can, making apple butter (probably in the crock pot), and maybe even some apple pie filling!

Until then, the rest of the tomatoes on the vine will be picked green and fried.

Brand New DrinkBands & You Could Win!

Win the Brand New DrinkBands on RaisingArrows.net!Guess what came in the mail the other day?!  Some fun new goodies from DrinkBands!  DrinkBands now has PERSONALIZED bands, so your family members can have their name AND their favorite color on their glasses!

Personalized DrinkBands!

DrinkBands is also pleased to present CAMO BANDS!  My family was super excited about these!  My daughter even got creative photographing them (shown in the photo below are 3 of the 5 designs).

Camo DrinkBands!

There are 5 camouflage patterns in all:

Camo DrinkBands!

I know you can’t wait to get your hands on these new DrinkBands, so how about a fun giveaway?  There will be 2 winners – one winner will get a set of 9 regular DrinkBands that are personalized, and another winner will win a set of 5 camo DrinkBands!  Giveaway ends this Friday, so hurry!

(Reading this via email?  CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stop Opening Every Jar of Peanut Butter We Own!

You may be a large family if every time you turn around someone has opened a new container of peanut butter…

or mayonnaise…

or [insert name of food that already has a full container sitting open in the refrigerator or pantry].

It’s maddening!

So, I got proactive and did this:

How to stop the kids (and dad) from opening brand new food containers when there is one already open | RaisingArrows.net

X marks the spot!

This is the ONLY peanut butter jar that is allowed to be opened.  And if you can’t find the one with the X, you find mom and together the two of you will look for it before determining it is a good idea to open a new one (which will be promptly marked with an X by the way!).

This works for anything that tends to get opened without thinking.  Maple syrup, boxes of cereal, and yes, mayonnaise!

Sharpie marker saves the day!


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so you can buy more peanut butter?

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When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart

When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart {how to get back on track} | RaisingArrows.net

My menu plan pretty much crashed and burned the past few months.  We moved, and I lost my groove.

I told you several months ago how a solid menu plan is the backbone of your day. Well, let me tell you, having mine fall apart made this beyond clear! Without this “backbone”, I had one seriously loosey-goosey day, that turned into a week, that turned into a month plus!  It was a mess!

Sadly, this isn’t the first time my menu plan has fallen apart.  Every time we have some major life event, it seems my menu plan is the first thing to take a nosedive.  However, I’ve learned a few tricks for getting things back on track quickly, and today, I’d like to share those with you (cuz I’m guessing I’m not the only one with a messy meal plan. ;) )

The first thing I did was go back to a pantry list.  I already had an old one on hand from my Once a Month Shopping series.  I had to do some revamping to make it fit our current eating habits, but that didn’t take much.

Simplified DinnersSimplified Dinners is an ebook that operates off this same principle, only it takes it a step further and gives you a pantry full of foods that will make many different meals all from the same list.  All the recipes and instructions and lists are included in the book, making it a no-brainer (precisely what you need when your meal plan has fallen through, eh?)  Working from a pantry list is one of the quickest ways to get back on track without needing to think too much.  It bought me time I needed to keep working on unpacking the house and getting back in a routine.

A couple of weeks later, I had more time to think through meals, so I pulled out my planner pages and my little red index box full of tried and true recipes.  Everyone needs the equivalent of my red index box.  You should KNOW what meals are family favorites.  You should KNOW what your family will and will not eat and how often they will eat it.  These are your GO-TO meals.  Pulling from tried and true meals to create a meal plan takes a little more energy than a static pantry list where you just cook from whatever you have on hand, but it would be beneficial to eventually create a pantry list around your tried and true meals.  (When your meal plan has fallen apart may not be that time, though.)

I’ll be honest, during this time, Pinterest was calling my name.  It wanted me to come and try NEW recipes, but when you’ve fallen off track as badly as I had, experimenting from Pinterest is NOT the answer.  I needed to get back to business first…then, get creative.

It wasn’t too long before I was back to my regular menu planning, pulling from several different resources and being much more creative!  I have found that one of the fastest ways to get me back in the meal planning mood (because let’s face it, you HAVE to be in the mood), is to find inspiration from others.  Looking through websites, cookbooks, and ebooks are a great way to find your inspiration to jump back into meal planning.

 

This past week, I decided to start being even more proactive with my meal plan.  I decided to make a 4 week rotating schedule with grocery lists on the back to keep on hand for times when my menu plan falls apart.  This coupled with a solid pantry list should help to keep everyone in the house on track and eating well!

Making Your Mealtimes More Leisurely

Leisurely MealsHaving kids sort of sucked the joy out of mealtime for me.  It meant no longer focusing on myself and my own food.  I now had the full time job of cutting up meat, cleaning up spills, and trying to have an adult conversation over the din of childish chatter.  The thought of having a leisurely meal was laughable, and rather discouraging to boot.

But several years ago, I was blessed to learn from another family what taking leisurely meals with a lot of little ones actually looked like.  It was like a ray of sunshine in my day!  I realized I really could have a wonderful mealtime with my family, but it would mean letting go of a few preconceived notions and a whole lot of anxiety.

A glimpse of Heaven…

When we sit down to fellowship over food with our family, we need to keep in mind that this is a foretaste of our fellowship in Heaven.  Things are not perfect here, but they can still give us an idea of what we can expect when we are truly Home.

Start the meal calmly…

It is so easy to start a meal with chaos.  It happens all the time here.  If we don’t all sit down together, take a deep breath, and thank the Lord for His provisions, we end up resembling pigs at a feed trough!  Don’t expect a meal to be leisurely if you don’t begin it that way.  And if it does begin in chaos, it is never too late (unless someone has left the table) to start over.  Have everyone put their forks down, take a deep breath, and begin anew.

Be aware of your surroundings…

Sometimes we forget to even look up from our food, let alone take the time to notice and engage the other people at the table.  When you eat with adults, conversation typically naturally flows, but it isn’t the norm at a table full of hungry little people and tired parents.  You have to make the effort to look up from your food and smile at everyone seated with you.  Start with the littlest one and work your way up.  Ask each child a question or simply smile at them.  This is the start to healthy dinner conversations.

Expect mishaps…

Because this is not a perfect world, we need to expect mishaps and be as prepared for them as we can be.  Have a towel handy for cleaning up spills, and try to take the attitude that the little mishaps in life are not something to dwell on and fuss over.  Remember, a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11) – in other words, speaking calmly and kindly when mishaps occur is a thing of priceless beauty.  Don’t let your words be ugly over something as minor as spilled drinks, dropped forks, and the like.

Learn to be still…

This isn’t just for wiggly little boys, this is for wiggly mamas who jump up and head off to the next thing on her list after wolfing down the last bite on her plate.  Train yourself to stay seated after you are finished, or better yet, slow down your eating altogether.  Give your brain a moment to relax.  Put your fork down, take a deep breath, and wait.  You might even want to bring a book to the table that you can use as a read-aloud at the end of the meal to help everyone stay in their seats and learn to be still during mealtime.

Feast & fellowship…

We don’t often think of eating with our family as a time of feasting and fellowship, but it truly is!  It is a time to reconnect after everyone has been about their own business during the day.  It is a time for you to share and for you to listen as others share about their day.  It should be fun!  It should be a celebration!

That’s where my free gift to you comes in…

FREE 33 Family Dinner Games | RaisingArrows.net

Our family has compiled 33 Family Dinner Games that don’t require a ton of forethought and preparation.  You can print out the list and instructions, and keep it handy in your dining room.  These 33 Family Dinner Games are FREE to subscribers of Raising Arrows and will be delivered to your inbox shortly after signing up so you can begin to enjoy your family mealtime tonight!

Get your Free Gift!


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Each game spans multiple ages and encourages an open and festive atmosphere for your meals!

Now, go and give those babies a big hug and kiss, do the same with your husband, and welcome them all to family mealtime tonight!

(Already a Raising Arrows subscriber? You’ll find the 33 Family Dinner Games on the Subscriber Freebie page!)

A Birthday & Two Super Exclusive Discount Codes!

Blake and Megan

Today, is my first born’s 16th birthday!  Wow!  Where did the time go?  He is an amazing young man and we are so very proud of him.  Happy Birthday, Blake!

Remember how I told you a few weeks ago about my new household binder system that was entirely paperless?  Well, I have an awesome discount code for the ebook that taught me how to set it up (it was a HUGE lifesaver during the move!).

Paperless 125Not only can you get Paperless Home Organization for 40%, this code will work for ANY and ALL of Mystie Winckler’s products!

CODE:  raisingarrows
gives you 40% off:
Paperless Home Organization
GTD for Homemakers
and/or Simplified Dinners
{expires 3/1/14}

DrinkBands

And I have another code from another company near and dear to our hearts – DrinkBands!  They are celebrating a milestone just like my son -whose DrinkBands color happens to be blue!

The Miller family has owned the company a whole year now and they are celebrating by offering Raising Arrows readers a super exclusive discount code!

CODE:  rafirstyear
gives you: 20% off
your entire DrinkBand order!
{expires 2/28/14}