Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Canning Season pt. 2

All my hard work in the garden is really paying off. I have been so busy picking and canning;

And I still love my new canning lids!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Canning Season

Canning season has begun and I am so very excited!
My green bean plants are producing very nicely.

I canned the first batch of green beans with red potatoes; sadly the potatoes did not come from the garden since I decided not to grow potatoes this year.

These were canned early one morning using older Kerr lids I still had; later that day my new Tattler lids arrived in the mail.

I will be picking more green beans later this week and this time I will be using my new lids.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another Summer Trip

Earlier this month we hit the road and headed to Ft. Worth. First on our list of activities was the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. No cameras or cell phones were allowed in the building so I wasn't able to take any photos. While on the tour we saw stacks and stacks of money and learned how money is designed and printed. This place was amazing and totally free!
While in Ft. Worth we visited The Botanical Gardens, another free activity. We went early while it was cool outside.

The flowers were so lovely and full of rich colors.

And the trees were so magnificent.

As we approached the rose garden the air was filled with sweet perfume.

The zoo was on our list of activities and while it wasn't free we did go on half price day!

Thanks to a very friendly volunteer, at the pioneer museum, we learned about a small train that you could ride for less than 3-dollars per person.

The ride lasted for about 40-minutes and followed the edge of a river and through a very beautiful park.

On the day we wanted to visit the museums I didn't want to drive and park downtown so we took the bus. The inconvenience of waiting for a bus was so much better than driving through all the traffic.

Along with visiting the museums we also checked out the Stockyards.

While we watched the daily cattle drive I was expecting to see hundreds of cows and real cowboys, but everything in the stockyards was just for "show".

Each evening after our daily activities we cooled off in the pool at our hotel. Ft. Worth is a nice place to visit. I loved being able to get away without spending a lot of money.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reusable Canning Lids

Last year during canning season I had a lot of trouble with my lids not staying sealed. I called the company several times but never could resolve anything; so I began a search for another brand of canning lids. While surfing the web I stumbled upon a brand of canning lids called Tattler. They are designed to be used over and over and I loved the positive reviews I was reading about the lids.

The Tattler lids consist of a plastic lid and rubber seal but you need to use your existing bands.

The rubber ring and lid needs to be placed in hot water, just like standard canning lids.

When your jar is filled you wipe the glass rim and place the hot lid and rubber ring on top.

And add the ring. Do not tighten too much, just fit the ring snug. Then you turn the ring backwards 1/4 of an inch so the jar can vent while in a hot water bath or pressure canner.

As I added my filled jar to my hot water bath the first thing I noticed was bubbles, lots of bubbles. I was afraid the water would leak into my jars since they were not "tight" but it didn't.

After processing my jars for the allotted time I removed them one at a time and proceeded to tighten the rings. This required two towels, one to hold the jar and one to hold the ring.

After all the jars were removed and tightened I then left them on a towel to cool. Normally I would listen for the traditional "ping" sound that comes with canning but these lids do not make any sealing sound.

The next day I removed all the rings and prepared to "test" for a seal.

Testing is very simple, just lift the jar up by the lid; each jar sealed perfectly.

When it's time to open a jar you will need a butter knife to separate the ring from the jar. You have to be very careful not to damage the ring because the ring can be used over and over again. This was easier to do than I expected.

Once the lid and ring was removed I washed it in hot soapy water and set out to air dry; now it's ready to use again. I then added a used metal lid to cover my opened jar; normally I wouldn't unseal a jar this soon but I was interested in seeing how to unseal a jar.

Trying to deal with Jarden's about the problem with their lids was a "Major Pain"! However, my blessing in disguise was finding out about Tattler. I have already placed an order so I can use these lids right away.

I spent just under a hundred dollars for a total of 6 dozen regular lids and 6 dozen wide mouth lids. According to what I have read the lids and rings will easily last 20 years.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Cottontail

Each day as I walk out to the garden I have been seeing my neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Cottontail dining on my green beans; so I have had to put up a make shift fence, which cost a whopping 40-dollars, in hopes of keeping them from eating any more of my plants.
While we were setting up the fence we discovered Mr. and Mrs. Cottontail has a family.

A very sweet and very soft family.

How can something so cute cause so much damage!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise

A little over a week ago Pat discovered our last hen had not been killed after all.On Wednesday she became the proud mama of 5 little chicks.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

We love twice baked potatoes; they are so easy to make. Begin with several baked potatoes that have cooled enough to handle.Cut in half length wise.

Scoop out most of the inside, leaving enough to keep the skin from tearing.

Put the potatoes in a bowl and add butter or margarine, salt and pepper. Blend well with a fork mashing any lumps you may have.

Now put the blended potatoes back into the empty potato skins filling each one evenly.

Top with grated cheese;

And place in a baking dish. I have found that the potatoes tend to fall over so I use a pan with sides.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350-degrees until the edges are crisp.

I usually bake more potatoes than needed so I can have extra to put in the freezer. Simply cover the potatoes before the second baking with plastic wrap and freeze.

Thaw before the second baking. This is a perfect food for summer since they can be made in a toaster oven and it doesn't heat up the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weeds in the Garden pt. 2

Elizabeth helped me pull more weeds from the garden yesterday and we managed to finish the peas;
And the carrots and onions.

My Jalapeno peppers have finally emerged; I was afraid the seeds were too old.

My cucumbers are up and ready to be thinned. I always dread thinning plants, it feels like I'm killing them.

With all the weeds gone my garden looks a little bare.

But I would rather it look bare than buried in weeds.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weeds in the Garden

My garden is really looking good but oh my the weeds are trying to take over! This morning I began the "back breaking" job of pulling the weeds that are growing up next to my plants. My focus this morning was on the green beans.I love how lush and full the plants are. While weeding I noticed many of the green beans have begun blooming.

With the green beans finished next on my list will be the peas. They are growing well but the weeds are too thick around each plant.

My tomato plants are really looking good and getting tall; thankfully the weeds around them have been very minimal.

The carrots are coming along nicely;

And so are the onions.

I started several pepper plants indoors but when I moved them outdoors most died; I only have three plants that lived and they are really struggling.

Although my garden is small this year I am so very pleased with it.

And I love having it in the orchard, which is really looking good as well.

I'm already on my second mowing and determined to keep up with it. Mowing small green weeds is so much easier than mowing tall dried weeds!

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