Who can find a worthy woman? For her price is far above rubies.......She looks well to the ways of her household. Proverbs 31:10-27
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Michelle’s Salsa

My daughter-in-law Michelle, who’s a great cook, has been canning up a storm from her very nice raised-bed garden.  She made this great salsa last year using a recipe she got from the Pick Your Own website.  She did a great job of getting a nice, thick, tasty homemade salsa.  My husband really loved this!

Michelle’s Salsa
3 cups chopped onions 
6 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded, finely chopped 
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
2 six-ounce cans tomato paste (adds body) 
2 cups bottled lemon or lime juice or lemon juice (see this page for an explantion 
1 teaspoon black pepper 
1 tablespoon ground cumin (optional) 
2 tablespoons oregano leaves or chopped cilantro (optional) 
15 pounds (before seeding & skins removed) tomatoes (I used mostly small round tomatoes with a few Roma's to equal 15 pounds) 
  1. Wash your hands then squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds.    Drain and chop the tomatoes, you need about 3 quarts altogether.  Start with the chopped tomatoes in the pot...
  2. Add the seasonings and bring to a gentle simmer, just to get it hot (180 F, if you have a thermometer) there's no need to cook it; only to get it hot enough to ready it for water bath processing to kill any bacteria and enzymes.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  3. Fill jars to within ¼” of top.  Adjust lids and place in a water bath canner, with boiling hot water 1-2” over the tops of the jars.  
Process pint jars for:
 15 minutes at 1000 feet elevation or less
 20 minutes for 1001-6000 feet 
 25 minutes for over 6000 feet elevation.
Comments from Michelle:
  • I got 8 pints of salsa with this recipe. 
  • I followed the directions for getting the seeds out after I removed the skins. 
  • I use the boiling water/shock chill method when skinning my tomatoes.
  • Michelle says she used a mixture of large onions and green onions from her garden.

Here is the link to the website:
Pick Your Own Salsa Recipe

Sunday in Iowa

Chicory wildflowers grow along road and highway edges all over in Iowa...this gravel road is in Madison County between De Soto and Winterset
Chicory flowers and young leaves are edible, and the roots can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee-like beverage.

Family Favorites...Home Canned Split Pea Soup

Click on photo to enlarge it
This soup is one of our absolute favorites to can.  Perfect to serve on a busy day; just add bread or crackers and some fruit.    I make sure I never run out…I usually double the recipe so I cut my mess in half. 
To get a head start, I assemble my canners, clean jars, other equipment, and cut up my veggies and put them in the refrigerator the night before.    I have to ask for ham shank at my grocery store meat counter; if you can’t find one, try ham hocks or just 2 cups of ham, diced.  
You don’t have to soak the peas, a real timesaver.  I actually don’t add the vegetables to the pea mixture as the Ball recipe calls for; I add them raw to the jars, and then cover the meat and veggies with the hot pea soup mixture.   Be sure you remove bubbles from the mixture if you do it this way, by stirring it with a plastic knife or chopstick.   
Home Canned Split Pea Soup
  1          Pound  Split Peas -- dried
  2          Quarts  Water
  1          Ham Shank-- (1 1/2# shank) (2 cups chopped meat)
  3          Ounces  Onion -- chopped
  4          Ounces  Celery -- 1/2" slice
  8          Ounces  Carrots -- 1/2" slice
  1          Bay Leaf
Combine the  peas, water and hock; bring to boiling.  Cover and simmer 1 hour, remove bay leaves and hock; trim off and chop meat and return to soup, (or keep it to divide among your jars).  Meanwhile, add vegetables (or save them to divide among the jars) and continue cooking 15 minutes or until peas are just tender.  The consistency will be thin.
Wash jars, heat in boiling water for 10 minutes, keep in simmering water until filling.  Heat lids in hot water for 10 minutes until ready to use.  DO NOT BOIL LIDS.
Divide ham and vegetables among jars if they are not in your mixture.  Pour hot mixture into hot jars, leaving 1-inch head space.  Remove bubbles with plastic knife and wipe jar rim carefully with hot wipe before sealing.  Cover and seal, place in pressure canner (with about 3 quarts simmering water), exhaust steam 10 minutes, process in pints 1 hour and 15 minutes at 10#.  Let pressure drop of own accord (30 minutes), open canner, remove jars to clean towel and let cool and seal, setting apart to allow air to circulate.  Remove rings and wash jars carefully.
Equipment:  Stock pot or Dutch oven, chopping board, pressure canner, 13 x 9" pan with paper towel for jar filling, jars, lids and rings, funnel, lid magnet, jar lifter, plastic knife, 2 cup measure for lids, 4 quart measure for water, clean towels, stock pot to keep jars warm if necessary.
To serve, add 1/4 cup water to emptied jar, rinse jar and add to soup.  If desired, add some shredded fresh spinach just before serving.  Heat and eat.  Each jar makes two 1-cup servings.
Cost in 2014:  75¢ per pint or $4.47 per canner load.
  "2006 Ball Blue Book"
Yield: 6 Pint Jars

Home Canned Boston Style Beans

Myrna and I both grew up eating Boston Style or “Molasses" Baked Beans.  The brand we were used to isn't available around here anymore, so when someone gave me some extra dry beans, I had to try this recipe.  I did find salt pork locally and bought some to use, you can also use ham or chunks of bacon.  I used the beans in molasses sauce from a recipe in the "Better Homes and Gardens Canning Book  1973" but needed almost twice as much sauce as their recipe called for.  That is closer to other recipes I found on the internet, but we like this one that uses some brown sugar - it is tasty and less expensive.  I am giving the sauce amounts I have found that I need.
I keep these on hand; the recipe calls for pints, after the first time, I started canning them in half-pints (for the same time); so the two of us didn't have any leftovers.  We often eat them with sandwiches instead of fatty chips, they don't need any "doctoring" to be excellent.
I like canning beans – no peeling, pitting or chopping!  I like home canning – as I know where my ingredients come from! 
                            Boston Style Beans

 2           Pounds  Navy Beans -- 4 cups
  6           Quarts  Cold Water
  2           Teaspoons  Salt
     2/3    cup  Molasses
     2/3    cup  Brown Sugar -- packed
     1/4    Cup  Vinegar
  2           teaspoons  Dry Mustard
  1           teaspoon  Salt
  5           Cups Reserved Bean-soaking Liquid
     1/4    Pound  Salt Pork -- cut in 14 cubes
7 pint jars, lids and rings
  1. Rinse beans; add to 4 quarts cold water in an 8-10 quart kettle.  Bring to boiling; simmer 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; cover and let navy beans stand 1 hour.
  2. Add the 2 teaspoons salt to beans and soaking water; cover and bring to boiling.  Drain, reserving 5 cups of the liquid. (If you can’t get 5 cups, add water).
  3. In a large saucepan combine the 5 cups of reserved soaking liquid, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and the teaspoon of salt.  Cover and bring to boiling; simmer 5-10 minutes.  Keep sauce hot.
  4. Divide hot beans into hot jars, filling jars 3/4 full (around 1 1/2 cups each).  Add 2 pieces of salt pork to drained beans.  Fill jars with hot molasses sauce; leave 1 inch headspace.  Remove bubbles.
  5. Adjust previously simmered lids.  Process in pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure for 65 minutes for pints (75 minutes for quarts Above 1000' can at 15 pounds pressure).
 (Times from nchfp.uga.edu)  Recipe adapted from "Better Homes and Gardens Canning Book  1973"

Equipment needed: 8 quart stock pot for beans, 3 quart pot for sauce, 10 quart or larger Pressure canner, small saucepan for lids, jar lifter, plastic knife or tool for removing bubbles, lid magnet, strainer to drain beans, slotted spoon, and ladle. Pan with cloth or paper towels for filling jars.  Tray or two with folded towels for setting cooling jars. 7 each pint jars, flat canning lids and rings.
2014 Cost:  $4.68 or 67¢ per pint if using purchased beans and salt pork.

Nutmeg Apple Conserve

This is an easy-to-make conserve.  Conserves have larger pieces of fruit and usually some dried fruit or nuts for interest.    The canning book recommended eating it on oatmeal, and we also liked it served with slices of ham or pork chops.  
My husband used our apple peeler-slicer without the slicing attachment to make quick work of peeling the apples.  Cut your apples into the water and lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.   Use purchased lemon juice so the acidity is controlled.   I used most of a 3# bag of Granny Smith apples.  This conserve jelled up nicely; apples have a lot of their own pectin.  
You do need to sterilize your canning jars because the processing time is less than 15 minutes.  That's easy to do right in your waterbath canner; removing them right before filling.  I use a long tongs with nylon tips for handling the hot, empty jars.  Check this link for good basic canning information.

Nutmeg Apple Conserve
  5            Cups  Tart Apples -- chopped, peeled
  1            Cup  Water
     1/3     Cup  Lemon Juice
  1 3/4     Ounces  Regular Powdered Pectin (1 package)
  4            Cups  Sugar
  1            Cup  Golden Raisins
     1/2     Teaspoon  Ground Nutmeg

  1. Gather jars, lids and rings.  Fill water bath canner with enough water to cover jars by one inch or more. Add empty jars.   Bring to a boil, cover, and keep warm.  Heat water in a small saucepan.  Simmer lids 10 minutes, remove from heat, cover and keep warm. 
  2. In a 6 to 8 quart heavy pot, combine apples, water and lemon juice.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in pectin.  Bring mixture to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and raisins.  Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in nutmeg.  Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
  4. Ladle hot conserve into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe rims, adjust lids.
  5. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling).  Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.
Equipment:  6-8 quart stockpot, waterbath canner or large covered stockpot with rack; jars, lids, rings, tray with paper towels or cloth for filling jars, jar funnel, lid magnet, jar lifter, cloth or paper towel for wiping rims, ladle, long spoon and long rubber scraper for cooking apple mixture, half sheet with a folded towel for cooling jars.  An apple peeler if desired.  (Here are some equipment suggestions)

  "Better Homes and Gardens Canning 2012"
  "6 Half Pint Jars"

Home Canned Black Beans

Here’s some easy canning for you.  We like cooked black beans in soups, casseroles and salads.  However, for two, a purchased can is too much.  So I can them in half pints, ready to use anytime.  A cupful is often what I need for recipes.  Remember, these MUST be pressure-canned for safety.  Check our canning links for more information.
I use fresh hot water to can them, so they are not so thick.  I only let my black beans soak 1 hour, unless they would be very old.  This method works for me; no bean “bricks”, but the beans are not mushy either.
This is convenient for emergency food storage too; in an emergency, you may not have water or heat to cook them from the dried state.

Home Canned Black Beans

Amount of Dry Beans
Half Pint Jars
Pint Jars
Quart Jars
1 Pound
8 Half Pints
4 Pints
2 Quarts
2 Pounds
16 Half Pints
8 Pints
4 Quarts
Rinse dry beans, cover well with boiling water.  Boil 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let soak 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare pressure canner; heating 2-3 quarts of water (read your canner directions).
Simmer jar lids 10 minutes (do not boil); and have your jars clean and warm.  Heat hot water for filling jars.
After soaking, heat beans to boiling and drain.  Pack jars 3/4 full with hot beans. 
Fill with hot water, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Remove bubbles.  Wipe rim of jar, place hot previously-simmered lid on jar and screw down lid. 
Process pints and half pints 75 minutes and quarts 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure in your pressure canner.  Let pressure drop naturally, about ½ hour.  Remove from canner and cool on a cloth-covered tray until sealed. 
(Processing Times and basic directions from Presto)

Wonderful, Easy Pimientos - Marinated Sweet Peppers with Garlic

I never thought that I could make pimientos…and those little jars you buy are expensive!  I also never thought I would LOVE eating pimientos right out of the jar either!
This recipe is so easy, I don’t think there is any reason to can them…I just make them when I need them and they stay crisp and good in the refrigerator.  
The recipe was right on the money for quantities – I made them in two half-pint jars so I could share one with Myrna.  You could “fancy-pack” them and give them for Christmas gifts too.  They are really a version of marinated sweet peppers with garlic.  
The second time I made these, I tried a jar each of yellow and orange peppers; they are simply delicious - nothing like the stuff you buy!  You can also fill your jars with those little fancy sweet peppers...  My husband thinks I need these on hand all the time, and was disappointed that he had to wait...they are great in salads, cut up in vegetables like green beans and peas, in casseroles or creamed dishes, or just on a relish tray.  We can hardly stop eating them!  Now I make 6 jars at a time - we use them in salads, vegetables, casseroles and on appetizer trays.          
  2            large  Red Bell Peppers
     ½       cup  White Vinegar
     ½       cup  Water
     ¼       cup  Sugar
  2            cloves  Garlic -- chopped
  1            teaspoon  Olive Oil
     ½       teaspoon  Salt
Sterilize jars (I use the water to then soak the peppers).
Wash peppers, remove inner seeds and membranes and slice into inch-wide strips.  Cover peppers with boiling water and let them soak for 5 minutes, then drain well.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water and sugar in a non-aluminum pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer mixture for 5 minutes, remove from heat and add garlic, oil and salt.
Place peppers in sterilized jars and pour the vinegar mixture over them to cover.  Store the pimientos in refrigerator for 2 weeks before using.
They will keep several months in the refrigerator.
2014 Cost:  $ 1.55 for 8 ounce jar or $3.09 per pint with purchased red peppers.
  "Cheaper and Better"

Yield:  "2 Half Pints"

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Sunday in Iowa

The Spillway at Lake Keomah in Mahaska County between Oskaloosa and Rose Hill, Iowa, a cool oasis amidst the soybean and corn fields