Making Your Own Tomato Powder

Hi again from Emma. I’ve been busy as heck because summer is coming to a close (Please say it isn’t so!) and I’m trying to pack in as much outside time as I can before our Midwest winter hits. One of the things I’ve been doing is making tomato powder from the skins I remove before canning my tomatoes.

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Mulberry Leaf Tea

Emma again:

In my first post about mulberries I listed some (many) of the health benefits of this amazing tree. It’s not just the fruit that’s good for you! Since John has been battling cancer since last year I’m going to make a large batch of Mulberry Tea leaves so that he’ll have it available all winter long. It’s a really simple thing to make and store.

First I’m picking a large quantity of leaves. The ones you want to use are mature leaves, free of blemishes. I wash all the leaves and then pat them dry with paper towels. That way I know they’re clean of bird and bug messes.

Mulberry-leaves-washed

From there it’s simply a matter of drying the leaves. Drying can be done by spreading the leaves out on a screen in a sunny area, and covering it with another screen to keep the leaves free from insects. I use my dehydrator as it’s easier for me than locating a spot where my curious dogs won’t disturb the drying leaves.

leaves-ready-to-dry

It doesn’t take too long to dry the leaves in a dehydrator. In the sun it will probably take two or three days. You want the leaves to be so dry that you could grind them into a powder but don’t do that. Just break them up into pieces. Remember, they don’t have to be uniform but you want them relatively close in size.

dried-leaves

Once dried and broken up you simply store them in a plastic bag or in a jar. They’ll keep quite well if you’ve dried them properly. I’ve temporarily stored this tea in a zip lock bag but I’ll put it in canning jars which I’ll seal with my Food Saver later.

bagged-dried-leaves

When you’re ready to make a cup of tea just put a few leaves in a cup of boiling water. You really want to be sure the water is screaming hot. If the water isn’t hot enough it will either be extremely weak tea or won’t even really steep at all. The tea should turn out the color of green tea. It has a pleasant taste and can be sweetened if you like. So go out, find a Mulberry tree and get started with your own healthy Mulberry Leaf Tea!

Ready-to-drink

Pemmican – An Ancient “Survival Food”

Pemmican is a “survival food” made of lean meat, beef tallow (rendered beef fat), berries, and nuts. The creation of Pemmican is generally attributed to the Cree people from Canada. There are many recipes available for Pemmican but they’re all basically the same; meat, tallow, fruit, and nuts. Honey can be added to improve the taste. While it’s unlikely you’ll love it so much you start having Pemmican Thursdays at your house it’s a great thing to add to your food storage because it stores extremely well and provides lots of nutrients in a SHTF scenario.

Basic Pemmican Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 cups dried meat (only venison moose, caribou, or beef)

3 cups dried fruit

2cups rendered fat (only use beef, preferably leaf fat ) An excellent article on how to render fat can be found at http://christeguh.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-render-youre-own-beef-tallow-or-lard

1 cup unsalted nuts (this is optional but I highly recommend it)

1 tbsp raw honey (not the stuff you find on the grocery store shelves in the little bear bottle) (optional)

Equipment:

Cookie sheet

Mortar and pestle

Sharp kitchen knife

Directions:

Dry the meat by spreading it thinly on a cookie sheet at 180* for at least 8 hours or until crispy.

Grind the dried meat into a powder using the mortar and pestle.

Add the dried fruit and grind, leaving some larger fruit pieces to help bind the mixture.

Cut the beef fat into small chunks and heat over medium heat until it renders (melts) making tallow.

Stir the rendered fat into the meat/fruit mix, mixing thoroughly.

Add (crushed) nuts and honey if using.

Shape the Pemmican into bars or small balls and wrap individual servings in wax paper or store in plastic bags.

Mulberry Cobbler

Emma: I took some time off because Kate brought 3 of my grand kids to spend a week with me and their Poppa. We had a great time but now it’s back to the work/fun of summer harvesting and making delicious things with the bounty our property provides.

Today I’m going to share a really simple recipe for Mulberry Cobbler. This recipe will also work with raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. You may want to adjust the sugar in the filling based on your taste and the berries you use.

BAM’S MULBERRY COBBLER

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cups mulberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (may adjust to taste – optional)
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400*

Filling: In a non-reactive saucepan combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Acooking-and-thickening-for-dd water and stir. Stir in berries. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until thickened and bubbly. Keep filling hot while preparing topping.

Topping:

Mix flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon (if using). Cut in the butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Mix beaten egg with milk and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until moistened.

dry-ingredients

Pour the still hot filling into a baking dish (8×8). Top with mounds of the crumb mixture. This will spread as the Cobbler bakes.

Cooked-mulberries-ready-to-

Mulberry-cobbler-topped

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Mulberry-Cobbler-ready-to-eMy topping didn’t spread as well as it should have but I may have been a tiny bit under on the milk. Also, be sure your butter is nice and cold so the proper “crumbs” form.

Serve warm or cold. This is great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Mulberry Recipes

In my last post I gave you lots of information about mulberries. While the health benefits of food are very important it’s crucial that things are pleasant to the taste or we don’t want to eat them. For me, mulberries are high up on the list of tasty, healthy foods.

Below are my recipes for Mulberry Jam, Green Leaf Mulberry Tea, and Mulberry Pie.

Mulberry Jam:

  • 6 cups mulberries, stems removed and washed
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 box pectin

Pick about 6 cups of mulberries. A good mix is about 1/4 red berries to 3/4 very dark berries. The red berries will help set your jam as they have a higher natural pectin content. I let the berries rest in the refrigerator overnight. Pick off the tiny stems and wash the berries. Warning: mulberries stain everything. Be prepared to have purple hands for several days and don’t wear anything you want to keep clean!

Freshly-picked-mulberries

Prepare jars, lids, and rings for hot water bath canning. Half pint jars will yield 6 – 7 jars of jam. Please be sure to follow all instructions for hot water canning!

Crush berries thoroughly (I used a potato masher) and begin to heat in a non-reactive pan, stirring constantly.

When the juices begin to release from the berries add the lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a full boil (one that cannot be stirred down). Stir in sugar until well incorporated, stirring constantly. Bring back to a full boil and continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes.

Adding-sugar-to-mulberries

Constant-stirring

When the jam has boiled for a full 4 minutes carefully pour into clean, hot jars. Leave 1/4″ headspace. Add lids and finger tighten rings.

Filling-jam-jars

Cover your hot water bath canner and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for 10 minutes. Immediately remove jars and keep in a draft free spot until jars have cooled completely. Check the seals on your jars. The center should be down and there should be no “give” in the lids. Remove the rings. Wash and label your jars. Any jars that have not sealed properly should be refrigerated and used within a week.

Clean-labeled-jarsThese jars are ready for storage in a cool, dark spot. If you have a basement, this is often the ideal place to keep the jars. Mine is cool, dry, and I have a nice dark place for them.

Next: Mulberry Cobbler!

Versatile and Simple Chicken Soup

Kate:

This is quite seriously the easiest chicken soup to throw together I’ve made.  It’s so versatile that you can almost make it as a last minute dinner.  I tend to call this my “Oh Sh*t Soup” because it seems I’m always starting it right after the kids get out of school, which doesn’t leave much time to cook a whole chicken!  I’ll start with the best way to make it then I’ll give you my variations. In a separate post I’ll share my family’s favorite way to eat the leftovers. Bear with me, I’m not great at measurements. I tend to just throw things in while I’m cooking without even thinking about measurements.

Ingredients:

  • Whole roaster chicken- raw or frozen
  • Chicken broth or bouillon
  • 1 pkg.(1 lb.) egg noodles
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion (optional)
  • 2-4 bay leaves (depending on size)
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chicken broth or water (enough to cover chicken)

Directions:

  1. Put raw whole chicken in a crock pot or stock pot, cover with broth or water, add 2 large bay leaves (or more if smaller), parsley, oregano, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Turn on low heat.
  2. Slice as many or as few carrots, celery, and onion as your little heart desires, 1/4 to 1/2 inch, according to personal preferences, and add to simmering soup.
  3. Allow to simmer 3-4 hours, until meat is very tender and pulls away from the bone easily with a fork.

    There’s my frozen chicken! LOL

  4. Remove chicken from pot and let cool for a few minutes until you can handle it comfortably.
  5. Remove skin, and using a couple forks pull meat away from the bones in bite sized chunks.  Discard skin and bones.
  6. Search your simmering pot of vegetables for your bay leaves and remove.  Discard bay leaves.
  7. Return bite sized pieces of meat to the pot.  You may allow it to simmer at this stage if necessary because you should not add the noodles until you are nearly ready to eat.
  8. Add package of egg noodles about 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, leaving heat on low, allowing the noodles to cook in with the broth and vegetables.  Cook until noodles are done.
  9. Serve.

Now for the “Oh Sh*t” version that can be started after kids are out of school and still makes it to the table for dinner time:

  1. Run some hot tap water over a frozen chicken enough to loosen up the ice adhering it to the plastic packaging.
  2. Cut the packaging open, put whole frozen chicken into pot, add 3 boxes of chicken broth, bay leaves, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Heat on high, until the broth gets hot (but not boiling).
  3. Turn heat down to medium heat (turn to low if it begins to boil) and let simmer for 1-2 hours, until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Slice carrots, celery, and onion into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces, add to a frying pan, with a teaspoon of oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  5. Saute vegetables over medium heat until tender.

    Saute the veggies

  6. Remove chicken from the pot (be careful, that stupid chicken will be as hot as lava!), remove skin, and using a couple forks remove the meat in bite sized chunks.
  7. Fish your bay leaves out of the pot, and discard.
  8. Return bite sized meat chunks to the pot, and add sauteed vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add a package of egg noodles and allow to simmer on low or medium (as high as you can without boiling), until noodles are done.
  10. Serve.

Other variations my family enjoys:

  • adding rosemary for a slightly different flavor
  • using homemade egg noodles instead of prepackaged (I’ll share that recipe in another post someday, remind me!)
  • Using rice instead of noodles
  • Varying the vegetables, cut green beans and corn are great additions
  • Add a jar of diced tomatoes, with juice, to change it up
  • The variations really are endless, use your imagination and follow your taste buds (and tell us your favorite variations on a simple chicken soup recipe!  We would love to hear them!)

Scrapple

For those of you not from the eastern part of the country Scrapple is a kind of pork “mush” that I grew up eating. Both of my parents were originally from Pennsylvania and I still have family in PA and New Jersey. Pennsylvania is the home of Scrapple.

The name comes from the fact that traditional Scrapple is made using the scraps left after a pig is butchered. My original recipe starts with the words, “Remove the eyes and clean the hog’s head carefully, being sure to scrape out the ears well.” DO NOT PANIC! I will not be using that recipe here.

Because of time constraints I’m making a “cheater’s version” of Scrapple. I use packaged country sausage. For those of you who want a more traditional version I’ll also post recipes using cuts of pork (nothing that will give you nightmares).

 

SCRAPPLE (Cheater’s Version)

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ lbs. country pork sausage

2 cups chicken broth

3 cups water divided

1 tsp. salt

¾ tsp. poultry seasoning

Pinch sage

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 additional cup water

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Butter for frying

 

DIRECTIONS:

Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

Break the sausage into small chunks.

Boil the sausage in 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups water for 15 – 20 minutes after mixture comes to a full boil. Continue to break up the sausage as the mixture cooks.

Drain the sausage reserving 3 cups of the stock.

Return stock to a boil and add salt, poultry seasoning, and sage.

Combine the additional cup of water with the cornmeal and gradually add it to the boiling stock, stirring constantly.

Cover and cook over a low heat for ten minutes. The cornmeal will thicken as it cooks.

Crumble the sausage to fine bits and combine with the cornmeal. Add several grinds of black pepper (to taste), mix well.

Pour the Scrapple into the loaf pan and cover with foil.

Refrigerate overnight or at least several hours.

 

To prepare, slice the Scrapple and fry the slices in butter until crisp.

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Traditionally Scrapple is served with syrup but my family always used ketchup and I still do.