Saturday, November 26, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

ClassifiedSurvival - Curing the Freezer. Ep1 Chicken Breast

Here's the first installation of "Curing the Freezer" from Classified Survival in which we learn how to preserve some common meats that may be found in your freezer.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Canning: Pumpkin

If you've been following along with the pumpkin-related posts to date, you should have a pumpkin already peeled, seeded and chopped. Be sure that the pumpkin is not chopped into too large of pieces. What's the point of canning pumpkin if you can only fit three chunks in each jar? The next step of your operation will be to gather your canning equipment, and review the basics of canning. The technique used for canning your pumpkin will be hot packing, and you will use a pressure canner to process your pumpkin.

Place your peeled and chopped pumpkin into a large stockpot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Only allow it to boil for a minute or two, you just want to get it hot, not necessarily to cook it. It will get plenty of cooking in the pressure canner! Put your hot pumpkin chunks into your hot jars. In this case I decided that quarts would be good. You can add a teaspoon of salt to each quart jar if you desire.

Next you will need to fill the jars with boiling water. An electric kettle works wonders in this situation!

Check your headspace using your headspace tool. You should have an inch of headspace for this canning application.

Turn your headspace tool over, or find another suitable thin plastic tool, and work out any air bubbles that may have formed during the filling process. Simply slide the tool down the outside of the food and work it around a bit. Shake, jiggle, pry, whatever you need to do to get those little bubbles out!

Use a clean damp dishtowel or paper towel to wipe the rims of your jars.

Use your lid lifter to place your lids onto your clean jar rims and screw on the rings. Remember that your rings should be "finger tight." They shouldn't be loose, but you don't have to crank them down with all your strength either.

Once the water has come to a boil in your pressure canner you can lower your jars into the vessel. Since the jars will likely be hot, you will want to use your canning tongs to lower them in safely.

Once the vessel is pressurized and the weight is rocking nicely you can start your processing timer. I strongly urge you to refer to your pressure canner user's manual for processing weights and times. For me, I processed 1 hour 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.

Don't forget that when your processed jars come out of the canner, they should be placed on a dishtowel on the counter and not touched until they are completely cool. If you put a hot jar onto the cold counter, it may burst. If you move a warm jar, the seal may be broken. Just be patient, and wait for the little fellers to cool. It will be okay, I promise.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to Peel A Pumpkin

As I was tackling the task of processing my larger pumpkins I had to figure out the most efficient way of peeling it. 

Using a sharp, sturdy knife and a large cutting board I began by cutting out the stem and slicing the pumpkin in half. Be sure to use long, fluid strokes while slicing. If you hesitate the blade may get stuck, and you could have a dangerous situation on your hands!

Using a large metal serving spoon I scraped out all the guts and seeds and set them aside for later.

Once the guts were all scooped I started to cut the pumpkin into strips. Please be very careful with this step, as the pumpkin is very slippery and hard to hold onto.

I cut each strip into chunks. The chunks don't necessarily have to be very small, it just makes it a lot easier to peel.

Once my strip was chunked I sliced off the skin on one side and the guts on the other.

After your pumpkin is peeled and chunked you can do whatever you want with it. Some of mine I boiled up for the goats to eat.

I froze some of it for later, and the rest I canned, but that's another blog post!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Roasting Pumpkins

First I cut off the stems, cut them in half, then with a spoon I scraped out all the guts and seeds, and set them aside. Be sure to use a strong sturdy knife and a large cutting board. Just because they are little doesn't mean that they aren't difficult to cut. The skins are quite tough and once you make your first cut they get very slippery and hard to handle. Cut with long deliberate strokes and don't hesitate, or your blade may get stuck. That's all you need! A slippery pumpkin rolling around with a sharp blade sticking out of it! When it came to the scraping, I found a small metal spoon with a rounded end, rather than a tapered end. This made it easier to scrape the guts without digging into the flesh. If you are roasting your pumpkins to cook or bake with, I suggest doing a better job of getting the guts out than I did. Mine are for goats to eat, and they don't care if they're eating pumpkin guts or not.

I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, and lined some baking sheets with parchment paper. Next I arranged the pumpkins on the sheet pans with their cut sides down. I baked the little fellows for about 30 minutes before I began checking on them.

The easiest way to test for doneness is with a fork. If you are able to push your fork easily through the skin, they are done!

My smaller pumpkins took 30 minutes, the larger ones took about 45 minutes to cook. If you are roasting pumpkins for your own use, you can make them into pumpkin puree quite easily. Just scrape the skin from the flesh with a spoon and put the flesh into a blender or food processor. Process until smooth and you've got pumpkin puree! Just remember that it is not advisable to can pumpkin that has already been pureed. Always can pumpkin in chunks and puree when ready to use. If you need a way of preserving your pumpkin puree, put it in a reclosable container or a zip top bag and put it in your freezer. Don't forget to label and date the container so you know what you've got!

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Last year one of my co-workers approached me and asked me if I would like her Halloween pumpkins for my goats. Of course I said yes! She told me that her family had painted their pumpkins that year, so they were still good and hadn't rotted like carved pumpkins would have. Painted pumpkins don't worry me, because you can scrub the paint off, and if all else fails you can peel the pumpkin and leave behind any stubborn spots of paint.

So, the first task was to give the pumpkins a bath! I put them all in my bathtub and added a drop of dish soap. Using a vegetable brush I scrubbed and scrubbed until the majority of the paint had come off. Now I just needed to decide what to do with so much pumpkin!

First I tackled the smaller pumpkins. I decided to roast them, since they were small, and save their seeds to plant in my garden.

The larger pumpkins took much more time to process. I peeled, chopped and froze one and saved the seeds to toast.

The rest of the pumpkins I decided to can.

I realize that this seems like a lot of work just to feed some pumpkins to my goats, but it makes for some very interesting learning experiences to share! Besides, during the colder months my in-the-yard friends need some extra calories to keep warm, so it will benefit them as well!

Just like any of my other themed-event kickoffs, this page will be used as an index, and links to the various projects listed here will be added as they are published. Please remember to check back often!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Slow Cooker Chili Sauce for Canning

In our ongoing effort to find tasty things for us to make ourselves and can for later, Willie and I set about making chili sauce for topping our hot dogs. Everyone likes a chili dog, right? We began our search for a good no-bean chili recipe and came across this recipe at Taste of Home. We modified it to fit our own use by taking the hot dogs out and increasing the sauce to meat ratio somewhat, so that it would be better for canning. Here is the recipe we devised:

3 lbs ground beef, cooked and drained
5 15oz cans tomato sauce
⅔ c worcestershire
5 Tbsp dried minced onion
2 ½ tsp garlic powder
2 ½ tsp mustard powder
2 ½ tsp chili powder
2 ½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper, heaping

Your first step should be to brown and drain your ground beef.

This gives a better flavor, texture, and appearance to the meat than it would have if you just lumped it all in the crock pot raw.

Next, add in the tomato sauce.

Finally, measure out your flavorings and seasonings This recipe is pretty easy in that all of the seasonings are dry. No chopping onions for you!

Stir it all up and put the lid on. Allow it to cook for about 4-5 hours on low. Just long enough to warm it up and allow the flavors to mingle a bit.

Once it is good and hot, turn your crock pot to "keep warm" and start preparing your jars and equipment for canning.

If you need help with canning equipment, please see my blog post on the subject. Otherwise, continue on to my Basics of Canning page for further instructions on preparing home-canned food. Please note that we processed our chili sauce as though it were spaghetti sauce with meat. Please check your pressure canner's instruction manual for directions on how long to process your sauce, and at what pressure.

Don't forget! You can always pull a jar of chili out of the pantry for Chili Cheese Sandwiches as well!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

A while back one of my co-workers posted on Facebook that she was so proud, because she had made and frozen enough crockpot meals to last the whole month. Needless to say I was a bit jealous, and was certainly eager to try out the idea for myself! So, I found a weekend and made a couple of test meals.The recipes I used came from hello glow. I made the Beef and Vegetable Stew, and the Sausage Lentil Soup. There are stacks of free recipes online, as well as cookbooks to be purchased.

The first thing you should do is to write the name and instructions for the meal on the outside of a gallon-sized zip top bag. That way, if you are making more than one meal at a time you won't be confused as to what goes where.

Open your zip top bag an insert it into a container of some sort. A canister or a pitcher would work best, just so that the bag will stand up while you fill it. It also helps if you fold the top over the edge of the container, so that the bag doesn't fall down into it.

Start prepping your veggies. If you have a mandolin slicer or a chopper it will make the process go by much faster.

You may also need to trim, slice, or cube the meats you are using. For the sausage soup I sliced my keilbasa into bite-sized pieces.

There will also be recipes that will call for meats or other ingredients to be cooked before they go in the freezer bag. I cooked my onion and browned up the sausage a bit, then let it all cool to room temperature before putting it in the bag.

While my onions and meat were cooling I began assembling the rest of the ingredients. All the chopped veggies went in, as well as a can of tomatoes. I sorted out my lentils (and found a rock!) and added those too.

Once all the ingredients are in the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. You can lay the bag flat to freeze, then it is easier to stack them once they are frozen. Most recipes will call for you to remove the meal from the freezer the night before, and place it in the refrigerator to thaw. When you are ready to cook it up, just empty the contents into the slow cooker and add in the liquid. The best part about a crockpot meal is that you can put it on to cook while you do other things. So, go to work, run errands, clean the house, visit your granny, whatever is on your agenda for the day, and your meal will cook without you!

Here are some links to more slow cooker freezer meal recipes:

Have fun! Happy crock-potting!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Make it Yourself - Ant Bait

As they days grew hotter this year, we began to see more and more ants in the house. Every time we would kill a group, another would eventually turn up. Finally, they invaded Willie's computer room, and enough was enough. He did some research on how to kill the whole colony. Lo and behold, we had the stuff we needed in the house already!
Here's what you'll need for your ant bait stations:

Powdered Sugar
Bottle Caps

It's pretty easy to do, Mix 1 part Borax to 3 parts powdered sugar. Dispense into bottle caps. Place bottle caps in an area frequented by ants.

It's best to put these bait stations someplace outside, or in the garage or a shed. Try to choose an area that is somewhat sheltered, with a windbreak. It will also help bring the little guys out during the day if the location of the bait stations is shaded. That way you can tell how many are taking the bait home! *insert evil laugh here*

The idea behind this method is that the ants won't be able to tell the sugar from the Borax. They will take it all home to the colony, and the entire colony will ingest the Borax. This will cause them to be unable to absorb water, and they will eventually die.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Can the Sales!

Often times when the subject of canning comes up, the common response I get is that the person I'm talking to doesn't have a garden, so they don't can. The thing about it is, though, you don't necessarily need a garden! Most grocery stores have their weekly ads available online, so why not check out what's on sale and can that? As we have learned in my previous post What to Can, there are a great number of items that can be preserved by canning.

For example, my local grocery stores have the following "cannable" items on sale this week:

Beef Roast (Rump)

I realize that this first one is a little bit of a strange one, but canned meat is fantastic! One of my nursing home residents told me that her husband used to go hunting every year, and a portion of what he shot got canned. Later on, after his health had declined a bit and he was no longer able to go hunting, she would scan the ads to find meat that was on sale, and can it. Grandma always canned a portion of the game that grandpa shot, too. I thought it was a great way to preserve your meat, and it is super easy to use. Some of the best loose meat sandwiches I've ever had came from home-canned meat! Here are some instructions on canning meat.

Roma Tomatoes

Since Roma tomatoes are a paste tomato, it stands to reason that they would be made into tomato paste. Click here for an easy tomato paste recipe that includes canning instructions.


Grapes are nice because you can juice them and can the juice, or you can make grape jelly. You could even mash them up to make wine, but then you would need to bottle it, not can it. Besides, that's another blog post in itself.

Peaches or Nectarines

In my family someone always had a peach tree, so there were always peaches to be canned in the fall or winter. While the obvious choice would be to preserve peach slices in a light syrup, you could also make them into jam, jelly, or pie filling, and can that. Nectarines can also be used in place of Peaches, since the only difference between the two is that nectarines lack the fuzz that peaches have.


I had never considered it before, but you can make plums into jelly or jam. Although I've never tried it, I think it would be an option worth exploring!


Asparagus is an fairly easy vegetable to can. If you have tall, thin jars you can preserve the spears whole, if not, you can just as easily snap them and preserve them in another type of jar. All you need to can asparagus is a little salt and some water, but if you're feeling daring you could always pickle it! Either way, the instructions are here.


Although I had never considered it before, I came up with the idea that one might be able to can pineapple at home several months back, and I spent an entire workday obsessing about the idea. When I got home I finally had the opportunity to research the subject, and was quite satisfied at how easy it is to can pineapple.


  You can either can your carrots on their own, or you can use them to compliment other items, such as pickled jalapenos. Likewise, you can pickle carrots and can them.


  I love apples because there's just so much you can do with them! The top "cannable" items to be make with apples are, for me, apple jelly, apple butter, apple sauce and apple pie filling.

Don't forget! If you have any questions about canning equipment, boiling water canning, or pressure canning, I've got info to help you! Please note that the boiling water canning link sends you to a recipe, but at the bottom of that recipe is boiling water canning instructions.