Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to can (or not to can) green chilies

I just finished canning a lot of green chilies. It was fun. I wrote a how to or how not to
  • When you order your bountiful basket add the 25lb bag of green chilies for $12.50. Who doesn't need 25lbs of green chilies right? Besides, it's only $12.50. That's a great deal!    
  • Spend the weekend trying to figure out what to do with the chilies. Wonder why in the world you just bought 25lbs of green chilies when you only ever make 1 dish that uses green chilies. 
  • By the beginning of the week the chilies have started to go bad. It really is time to do something with them and you should start right away. (I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with them but I found out you have to roast and peel them first so I started there). 
Image Source here
  • Roast the chilies. We used the grill outside. Be careful not to char them to a crisp. You just want to blister the skins on the outside. Don't let your husband take over, this part is very enjoyable. He may try several times to do the roasting but don't let him. After roasting, place the chilies in a lidded container (with the lid on) and let them steam until ready to peel.

  • Let your 2 year old fall asleep and take a nap at a ridiculously late hour for a nap. 
  • Peel the chilies. Remove the stems and seeds.  

  • Give little girl a peach, cucumber, shoes... anything to try and keep her entertained so that you can keep peeling.
  •   Take a break for peeling to can pickles that have been waiting for a few days now.
  •   Continue to peel chilies. Invite grandma, grandpa, and Aunt Jen over to keep kids entertained so that you can keep peeling. Send kids out to the garden to play.

  • Peel chilies late into the night. Have your husband stay up even later to finish peeling after you and the kids have gone to bed. ... Ok enough peeling but this does take a long time. Put the peeled chilies into the fridge to finish tomorrow
  • Next night, de-seed the chilies in the living room while watching a movie. This takes a long time. (note the messy house and Heber's quite book on the floor, also being used as a pillow in a previous picture. We obviously neglect all other duties while trying to get the canning done. If I had more money maybe I would hire someone to come a clean. But probably not really.)

    • Pack chilies into jars, pour boiling water over them, put lids on, and processes in a pressure canner. 13 lbs for 35 min. 

    • Post info on your blog and sigh at your terrible picture taking abilities. Someday I will learn to take decent pictures (or at least get a better camera) and my blog will be full of beautiful pictures. 
      I froze some chilies to use in salsa once we have ripe tomatoes. I am also going to use some to try and make a green enchilada sauce using some of my green tomatoes. I'll let you know how it turns out. I feel like all of my extra time is spent canning and we haven't even got to all the tomato stuff yet.
      I'm not sure if all of this work was worth it. I guess we will see when I actually come up with some good recipes that use green chilies other then creamy chicken enchiladas. Any ideas? 

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    starting school

    School starts next week for us. I have mixed feelings about it.

    I am looking forward to having more of a set routine and less craziness and changing plans and trip after trip. It will be nice to get back on a somewhat regular schedule for all of us. I love the fall time and school starting means that Autumn is near. I love the cool crisp air and the bountiful garden harvest and canning season and an all around excitement that fills the air this time of year. I guess it's more of the time of year I am excited about and not so much starting school. ... Ok it's not fall quite yet- it is still hot, especially today- but school is starting and that makes me think of fall and wish for fall. Although I am not taking any classes, Ben will be and he always shares the interesting things he is learning. He is taking some great classes this semester and I'm sure we will have some good conversations on the topics he discusses in class. 

    Heber playing in the leaves, Fall 2009

    Ben will be taking 4 classes this semester. I am going to miss having him home a lot and being able to get things done around the house. This summer he has been so great to get dishes done, work in the garden, and fix up the house. Once school starts, he won't have the time to do as much around the house. I am going to miss the freedom of summer and not have a set schedule to follow. I will miss going on trips. The school year always feels so crazy and busy but it's a different crazy and busy then summer is.  I work at the University and summers are really nice and slow. The school year is the exact opposite. Due to some changes that have been made (new computer systems and such), this year is going to be especially hectic.

    It has been a fun summer filled with lots of trips and visiting family. Goodbye summer. We will miss you. Hello autumn. I'm sure you will be filled with lots of harvesting, canning, and learning. There will also be trips for visiting family. We love to visit family.

    Heber and Great Grandpa reading "Fox in Socks"

    Life (and mostly work) will be busy so I may not be blogging as much. I seem to be sporadic blogger anyway.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    These kids

    are a gift from God. They teach me more every day.

    Yesterday I was feeling really grumpy and irritated... this seems to be a very common theme in my life for the last several weeks. I have no idea why really but I wish I could just cut it out already. Well Yesterday I was feel very irritated with Heber (napless sleep deprived 2-year-old can make you feel that way I guess). He was crying and fussing about something and I had had enough. I picked him up and took him to the couch where I held him while we both cried. I closed my eyes to say a little prayer for help. Heber asked "what you doin' mom?" So I explained that I was saying a prayer in my head to ask Heavenly Father to help me to be patient and kind and to be happy. I was asking for help to be a better mom.

    Later in the evening while I was getting the kids ready for bed Heber asks "Jesus loves you mom? He helps you to be happy? He helps you be a better mom?" Yes, He does. "You happy mommy?" I'm trying to be. "Ok, I gotta get my globes (gloves) on. I'm going to work. Bye, I love you, I'll be back soon."  I love you too. Wait, come back here, it's time for bed.

    Oh joy, please go to sleep. He then proceeded to stay up until midnight while I finished canning the jam. In his defense though, he took a nap from 4-9pm. He is right in between needing a nap and not so we keep getting these crazy sleep schedules. I am not one for schedules and I sleep when I'm tired and eat when I'm hungry. My kids do the same.

    I do love these kids. I hate when I am always feeling so irritated and impatient with them. I say I hate it when I can't get anything done and the kids need me all the time. I am going to try to stop all of this negativity and grumpiness. I am trying to be more Christlike in my mothering. I am trying to be more gentle. These little ones have such sweet spirits.

    Eeva eating avocados. This girl loved to eat by her self.

    I would like to write my ideas and thoughts on gentle parenting and Christlike love but I am having a hard time gathering what I want to say... so someday in another post. Until then, here are some cute pictures of the kids. I was trying to get Heber to stand next to Eeva for a nice picture but he was being too silly.  I set Eeva in the crib for a bit and she pulled herself up to standing. She was quite happy about it too.

    I told Heber to just stand by Eeva and do a nice face and he said "I won't."

    Fine then I'll just take Eeva's picture.
    "Ok, ok I will"

     After this one I just gave up on trying to get a nice picture of the two of them. 
    At lest I got a lot of funny silly ones.

    Pool Party

    A few weeks ago we went to Ben's Aunts for her annual Pool Party. It was a lot of fun and good food. Here are some pictures from the evening. I think you can click on the picture to see it bigger.


    Why oh why is it so hard to place pictures and get them where you want them!! Does anyone know how to get them to line up better?

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Raising Chickens (part 2) or how we came to have 23 chickens

             This spring, after we got 6 new baby chicks, a skunk got into our chicken coop and killed 3 of our 6 laying hens. It was so sad. I never really thought that I had any feeling for a chickens as pets until this happened. I always just thought of them and a food source but our neighbors called in the middle of the night and left a message that I got in the morning. The message said "Janice, we are so sorry. We heard a terrible sound last night and thought it was coming from you chicken coop. We went out to check but it was too late and the critter had already got to them. We know there are at least two dead. Go out and check on them as soon as you get this." I was at work when I got the message and I called Ben and had him go and check. I was so so sad and even cried a little bit. We had to set up a trap to catch it (we initially thought it was a raccoon) or else it would keep coming back until it got all of the chickens. We set up a live trap and in the morning we were surprised to find a skunk and had to figure out what to do with it. It sprayed all over our yard and my dad ended up shooting it and taking out side of the city to dump it. Our yard and everywhere was so stinky. It still smells like skunk by the camper chicken coop even now, several months later.

          Because of loosing these chickens, my dad got worried about having enough eggs and went and got 7 more baby chicks to add to the 6 chicks we already had. While these chicks were growing in my dad's shed under the heat lamp, we were working on setting up the new chicken coop. Here are some pictures of the house as it stood at my great-grandpas homestead.

    The building that we moved is the one in the far background on the right next to the sheep camp.

    Ben saying hi to the baby cow. The building/ new chicken coop is on the left in the back ground of this picture.

    Here is the new chicken coop all set up at our house. I think it looks really nice here and it is fun that it came from my great-grandpa.It sits on to the side of our garden between the cherry and apple tree. The chicken run is set up behind the coop.

             We moved the new baby chicks (13 of them) to this chicken coop and waited until they got bigger before we moved the 3 laying hens in with them. A few weeks we went down to Utah for a family reunion. When we came home I went to check on the chickens and saw several more chickens in the camper coop with the laying hens (this was before we moved then to the new coop).  I told Ben and he said, oh your dad probably just moved the baby chicks up. Uh... no that doesn't make since at all and these aren't our baby chicks. So I called my dad to ask what it the world was going on. He explained to me that a guy he works with got these roosters to use a meat birds and then decided he had no desire to actually butcher the birds and really wanted nothing to do with them at all. So my Dad kindly took them off his hands. There were 7 birds all together, one of which I am positive is a hen and one that might or might not be.

          After an evening of bird shuffling and moving, my dad got our 13 hens in the new hen house and the 7 other birds in the camper coop. I have rooster fear from our really mean rooster and I get scared every time I open the rooster house to give then food or water. They are all really skittish though, much more so then our hens, and all fly far away from the door when I open it. Our chicken totals:

    3 Rode Island Reds, laying hens

    7 Red Sex-links (also called Red Star), all hens- will start laying in the fall

    6 Ameraucanas, all hens - will start laying in the fall

    7 others, mostly rooster, most are Ameraucanas I think, the one hen is a Sex-link- we might add the hen to our other hens and then my dad will kill the roosters for meat after growing them for a few months

    23 chickens all together. We let the all out in the yard to run and it was total craziness with that many chickens running around. It made me temporarily questions why we are doing this. Then I watched "Food Inc." and thought, oh yah, that's why.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Adventures in raising chickens (Part 1)

    This whole chicken fiasco is my Dad's fault. He grew up on a farm and always had chickens. He has wanted chickens for fresh egg ever since Grandpa got rid of his chickens. My grandpa died right after Ben and I got married. I think that we got rid of his chickens when Grandpa's health went downhill and he left his farm and moved in with my parents. By "got rid of" I mean butchered and eaten. I remember going in to gather chicken eggs every time we went to visit my Grandpa. Anyway.... my dad wanted chickens.  When we bought out house there was finally a place to put the chickens and my dad asked if he could get some chicks and keep them at our house. We also wanted chicks for fresh egg and agreed to get them. As I have learned more about "store bought" eggs, I am very glad to have our chickens.

    We got our first baby chicks a few months after Heber was born.

    My dad was going to get only hens but the guy at the store convinced him that he could accurately pick out the hens from the "straight run" (mixed hens and roosters). My dad got 14 baby chicks. The guy at the store wasn't very good at telling the hens from the rooster and we ended up with 6 hens and 7 rooster (one baby chick died a few weeks after getting them). They were all Rode Island Reds. We kept the baby chicks in my Dad's shed until they no longer needed a heating lamp. This picture was taken shortly before moving them to our house.

    We then moved all of the chickens to our house. Their chicken coop was an old camper that was at our house when we bought it. It was worked quite well as a coop.

    14 chickens seemed like a lot of chickens. They grew bigger, the hens started laying, and the roosters got aggressive and mean. We had some fun adventures trying to get them to actually roost in the coop. We had one hen that we called "Henny Penny" who would always get out. She was smaller then the others and could fly over the top of the fence that was around the run. Ben once found a huge nest with about 20 egg on top of the shed where she had been laying all of her eggs.

    My dad decided it was time to "get rid of" some roosters. We ate them for Thanksgiving ("we" excludes me) and they didn't taste very good. I wanted to keep 1 for some crazy reason and that one ended up being the meanest rooster I have ever met. He would attack every one and anyone again and again. It got so that I wouldn't go out in the yard if he was out. When I would go out to let the chickens out I would open the door to the camper and then run back in to the house as fast as I could to get to the house before the rooster saw me.  I once got stuck in my car when the rooster was out. Every time I would even open the car door he would come running. It was pretty pathetic but I was so afraid of that rooster. We ended of getting rid of this rooster too. That left of with 6 hens. They don't lay many eggs in the winter and between us and my parents, we wanted a few more and decided 6 more hens would be perfect. We got the 6 (ended up being 7 and then 1 died) hens this spring. We, meaning my dad, Ben, brother, and brother-in-law, saved my great-grandpa's honey house from his homestead. It has a wonderful old look and I really like it.

    To be continued . . . . see Adventures in Raising Chickens (part 2) or how we ended up with 23 chickens.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    not much

    Not much going on around here. ... at least not much in the way of blogging. I want to write stuff but I feel like I need interesting pictures to go along with it and I haven't got any. I need to take more pictures. While I haven't been taking pictures, I have been:

    • Loving my babies (Even though he is 2 1/2, I still count Heber as a baby... probably will always consider my children my babies) and trying not to feel too grumpy or irritated when they need me all the time. Trying not to yell at them when I am feeling grumpy. Trying to give extra hugs and kisses when they cry when I leave for work. I hate when they cry, it makes it too hard to leave.
    • Picking food from the garden, lots of it. There is something so extremely satisfying about making a meal that consists (almost) entirely of food that came from your yard. I can't get over that feeling! We have been harvesting:
      • Raspberries, strawberries (only a few as the birds get them before we do), zucchini (lots and lots), peas, cucumbers, basil, green onions, bell peppers, some other kind of pepper that was supposed to be hot peppers for salsa but isn't, lettuce, spinach, green beans, and eggs from our chickens although not many. We are anxiously waiting for corn, potatoes, winter squash, and tomatoes especially. * picture here lots of beautiful pictures of stuff from our garden 
      • I need to plant new lettuce and spinach as well as some cilantro for salsa
      • Getting food from the garden really is exciting. I am sure it is something we will always be doing. I am working on canning and preserving our food for the winter. I have dried some zucchini to use in soups and casseroles, we eat it almost every meal, and I have made a lot of zucchini bread (I will probably also freeze some to make zucchini bread later) but does anyone know what else to do with the stuff? Also I am trying to find a good recipe for dill pickles, one that stays crunchy.
    • Working on the house, cleaning, organizing, fixing, and moving stuff. Ok I haven't been doing much of this but Ben sure has. He has also been great at washing the dishes. We are trying to get it ready so that we can rent out the upstairs as a separate apartment.
    • Reading interesting things about food, real food. It is making me even more determined to grow and make more food for ourselves. 
    • Writing my babies birth stories and try to decide what to post or not