Great Depression Recipes: Raspberry Vinegar


So, you wanted to make raspberry vinegarete and had a cow when you saw the price on the raspberry vinegar?  No problem.  Try making your own.

Some people flavor a glass of water with a Tablespoon or two of this flavored vinegar.  Allegedly, there is some healthy benefit, but I’ll be darned if I can remember what the heck it is.

Raspberry Vinegar

4 quarts raspberries

2 quarts cider vinegar

a whole bunch of sugar

Procedure:

1. Crush the berries.

2. Divide the mashed berries in half.  Freeze one half and use the other half now.

I think ice cube trays might be the way to go here.

3. Pour the cider vinegar over the mashed berries.  Cover and let stand for 2 days.

4. After the 2 days, strain the berries out and pour the remaining juicy vinegar over the other half of the berries.

I wouldn’t worry about thawing them since they will thaw as they soak anyway.

5. Let stand for another 2 days.

6. After the second 2 days, strain and measure you vinegary juicy liquid.

7. For every pint ( AKA 16 ounces or about a pound) of vinegar juice liquid add 1 cup of sugar.

8. Boil for about 5 minutes in a non aluminum ( non reactive ) pot.

9.  Skim any yuckies — that’s the technical term, you know.

10. Can and seal.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a time listed.  But do to the acidity, I would think a 20 minute water bath would be thoroughly sufficient.

More ideas for abundant berries:

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial — the simple any berry recipe

Advertisements

Rain, Rain Go Away


(Neighbor Nancy splats her soggy self into her chair for a sound pout.)

In the last month we have received 4,867,947 inches of rain. And not a nice, steady rain. Oh no! Cloud bursts full of lightning and hail and winds that blow the chickens across the yard.

Okay, so the chicken part is a little bit funny.

But I have had it! I am sick of being damp or sliding precariously in the mud down the slope of the garden or huddling just inside the door with my oscillating hoe, waiting for the lightning to stop.

While the oats have been pushed over by huge volumes of water, the weeds stand straight and tall, mocking me from their inappropriate homes. I saw a flattened row of corn next a happy, sturdy Japanese knot weed. Bastard.

Sorry, that just slipped out.

My strawberries aren’t a harvest they are puffy, sloppy, tasteless mush as are those of the good local U-pick.

A lovely sap producing maple was blown over — on top of — the back nursery of baby fruit trees. The popcorn rotted in the ground.

Somewhere there has to be a light — a positive side.

Well, the broccoli is thriving as are all the woody berry plants like blueberries, raspberries and currants.

I haven’t turned on the hose in over a month.

With all the accompanying fog, it is as lovely as living in Brigadoon. I can only see my parents’ barn every now and then.

With the sun at my back and a cloud burst coming in, the rainbows are fantasticly intense.

Thanks to a diversity of plantings, something will always live, thrive, grow.

And while I build my ark, in case we float away, I know that some crop or another will produce enough to help us through the harsh winter that waits at the end of this wet, hot, rather moldy summer.

How is the weather in your neck of the woods?

Oo! Break in the rain — I gotta spread some fertilizer and hoe more weeds. See you later.

(Neighbor Nancy flies out the door, letting the screen slam shut behind her. Immediately we see her slide on her bottom in a big puddle. Let’s turn our attention elsewhere as she curses and fumbles to get up. Not very dainty and ladylike, is she?!)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin


Good morning. I’m glad you could join me. Grab an old apron from the linen closet and join me to make delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

If you are new to jam making, you might want to skim the Jam tutorials first. The links are at the bottom.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Ingredients:

3 cups Strawberries, hulled and mashed

3 cups rhubarb, finely diced

5 cups of sugar

Procedure:

1. Mash berries and dices rhubarb.

Mash the strawberries to extract all their lovely flavor. Using a very sharp knife, cut up the rhubarb into tiny pieces.

2. Mix strawberries and rhubarb with the sugar in a large pot.

It may seem silly , but a large pasta pot is best to avoid a big boiled over mess.

3. Cook to a rolling boil, stirring frequently.

4. At rolling boil, reduce temperature to keep the mixture boiling– just not too furiously.

Cook forever, maybe 30 or 40 minutes, while you only scrape the sides and checking that the bottom is not sticking.

5. Check for sheeting

When the jam pulls together in a thick gloppy drip, remove from heat.

6. Skim any foam.

7. Put in sterilized canning jars.

8. Process for 20 minutes.

Don’t forget to add 1 additional minute of water bath time for every 1000 ft. you are above sea level.

Other tutorials in the easy canning series:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

Strawberry Lemonade

Blubarb Jam — Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without added pectin

If you are a jam maker stopping in for a visit, how does your recipe differ? We are always open to hints, and recommendations.

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial


Strawberry, blueberry, currant, raspberry, blackberry,boysenberry, loganberry, gooseberry, ad infinitum. This is the basic any-berry method.

Simple jam made without store bought pectin requires only three ingredients: fruit, sugar, lemon juice. Simple and inexpensive, particularly if you are growing your own fruit.

Making your own preserves is one of those projects that you end up saying, ” Wow! I didn’t know it was that simple.” It is.

You could use store bought pectin like Certo or Sure-jell, but here are a few reason not to.

1. Using store-bought pectin drive up the cost per serving. Alot.

2. Contrary to a what a popular jam site says, using store bought pectin requires more sugar than basic country jam. More sugar, more expensive, less healthy.

Do let’s dive in.

Strawberry jam, blueberry jam, raspberry jam, any berry jam.

Ingredients:

1 cup of crushed fruit

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Procedure:

1. Crush the fruit.

Some recipes will try to encourage you to throw the fruit in a blender or food processor. Don’t. The resulting jam ends up with a very hollow flavor.

Crush the fruit with a potato masher or even a super clean soup can to extract all that fresh berry flavor.

2. Stir all the ingredients together in a ridiculously large non-aluminum (non-reactive) pot.

These days most modern pots are not aluminum.

For this particular recipe, I would use the deepest sauce pot I own. Not quite a stock pot, but nice and deep.

Why such a big pot?

Well, as you bring the jam to a boil, it will froth up like crazy. Even as much as 3 times its original volume.

3. Bring it to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently.

Watch it. If the jam is going to boil over, this is the time. Some people add a teaspoon of butter to reduce foaming, but I have a use for the foam so I never add butter. Your choice.

4. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil. Stop stirring.

Reduce the heat so the the bubbles keep coming up, but nothing too furious.

Some people stir through the whole process. I don’t. You want to occasionally draw the spoon through to be sure your not burning the bottom. But if you stir the whole time, you are reducing the temperature and increasing the cooking time. I am just to busy for that silliness.

However, if you are terrified of burning it and this is your first time, there is a comfort to stirring constantly. Your choice.

4. As the jam starts to thicken, test for sheeting.

“Test for what?!”

All right, now settle down.

Sheeting is simply the name for how the jam appears as it drips off the spoon.

I use a non-slotted metal spoon. Scoop up some of the boiling jam and slowly dump it back in. It is the last little bit that you are going to watch.

As the jam is just starting out, you will notice that it drips off the spoon in several places.

When the jam is ready it will “sheet.” The drips will pull towards one another to make a more gloppy big drop. As the drops pull towards one another that gooey bit of jam between them is the “sheet.”

I will try to capture a picture of in the next couple of weeks as strawberries come into season here.

6. Remove from heat and skim off the foam.

Using a large metal stirring spoon skim the foam off the top of the jam. Most people dump it, but I reserve it for another goodie.

Time to make a decision.

Are you going to eat it in the next couple if weeks or would you like to can it for much later?

Today, I will assume you are going to eat this first delicious attempt. A post on processing will follow.

If you are going to eat it relatively soon or you are testing the sugar content (more on this later,) simply pour it into any clean glass or pottery container. Not plastic, ’cause it just might melt. If you let the jam cool in the pot a bit, a clean sour cream container would work fine. Pop it in the frig. You are done.

Now, who is going to do the dishes?

Troubleshooting:

Too sweet or too tart– everyone has different tastes plus every year the berries are slightly different. Try this recipe then increase or decrease the sugar from there. I usually find this a bit sweet for my strawberries, but better with strawberry-rhubarb or blueberry. Don’t be afraid to play with it. That is how you learn to make the best jam.

Yes, the more little batches you make the better you will get.

Too runny — it wasn’t cooked long enough. Call it a “sauce” and use it on waffles or over ice cream. My first jam experience resulted in 6 pints of blueberry sauce. It was delicious.

What to do with the skimmed off foam:

Fold it into whipped cream to ice a cake.

Mix it with cream cheese to make a delicious fruit dip.

Fling it at your enemies. It sticks!

Smear it onto waffles immediately and invite me over.

Frugal Berry sources:

Inexpensive jam doesn’t come from store bought berries. Here are some other ideas.

Your garden

Farmers’ Market — especially just at closing time. You just might be able to strike a good deal, because the farmer wants to unload them and not take them back to the farm

Pick-your-own — check for local U-pick places by calling your county extension agent or try these links:

Pick Your Own.org

or

Local Harvest.org

Other beginning canning tutorials:

How To Make Jam — The Canning Supplies

How To Make Jam — The Easy Canning Process

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam — without added pectin

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup

Strawberry Lemonade

Blubarb Jam — Blueberry Rhubarb Jam without added pectin

What are you going to try?

Any problems or questions?

Electronics Activities For the Young Mad Scientist


Well, hello there. Grab some Strawberry Lemonade from the pitcher in the fridge and join me in the basement lab/Bat Cave of my young mad scientist.

Every mad scientist should have an alias... or so I am told.

Every mad scientist should have an alias... or so I am told.

Today, we will share our favorite activities to keep the curious mind of a budding electrical engineer busy in his lab and well away from the disassembly of your kitchen appliances.

We’ll discuss the ElectroWizard series, Snap Circuits, and homemade wiring boxes.

And don’t worry about cost, I will mention a great free internet option, too.

ElectroWizard series:

I first found these little kits at Marshall’s or TJ Max or some buyout place like that after Xmas — and therefore on sale.

ElectroWizard is published (assembled, whatever) by Norman & Globus, Inc. Full price it may run around … oh maybe the $10-$15 range.

Anyway, my son first started building circuits when he was three using these nifty sets. Of course, the packaging recommends it for ages 8 and up, but that is just a suggestion. Certainly by age six, kids can easily manipulate the smaller parts and do more without your reading.

I’m a “I’ll read the direction, but you have to figure it out yourself” kind of mom.

The wires are prestripped and simply clamp into things like light bulbs or are held to a battery with a rubber band. Very simple.

The book that comes with the set includes easy picture and word directions.

The favorite of the mad scientist above is ElectroWizard: Invetions — Build, Build, Build by Penny Norman.

This particular set includes projects like motors, generators, telegraphs , relays,and even a radio. The kit includes everything you need, which pretty much comes down magnet wire, paperclips and rubber bands.

This just might be how MacGyver got his start.

Snap Circuits

Oh, where have you been all my life?!

I love this set. Buy the biggest set you can possibly afford. This thing will entertain your kid for years.

Everything literally snaps together. Very cool.

Recommended for ages 8 to 108, even you will find experiments to play with.

There are simple circuits, motors, generators, resistors, capacitors, lights, sounds…oh just everything you could want… including a solar panel.

My favorite part is that each componant has the actual schematic representaion on it. So when high school physics rolls around, this stuff will be old hat.

My favorite is the biggest, baddest set of them all. Model SC-750 with computer interface. With 750 experiments, you are gauranteed to have something for every dad blasted year of the science fair, plus Junior Academy of Science.

Click here for more info on Snap Circuits

Homemade wiring boxes:

The wiring box is an affordable way for your mad scientist to learn just what goes on behind the walls of your home.

By about 6 or 7 years old, every mad scientist aught to have his own wiring box. It is a simple rectangle made out of a 2 by 4 and wired with a plug. Using the regular stuff found in a home, like wall sockets, light sockets and switches, plus a little wire, your mad scientist will be on his way. The best part is you just plug it in to test wiring configurations. Safe and easy.

Everything you need can be found at your local hardware store and your usually your local high school shop teacher can talk you through the construction, if you are not familiar with this stuff.

Hit the library for a book on home wiring and your off.

This might be a nice time for a little safety talk and instruction on the use of basic tools, while your at it.

Free internet fun for the budding electrical engineer:

The University of Colorado at Boulder has a great simulation site. For the 4 or 5 years since I have found this gem, it has constantly grown better. More goodies to play with.

The circuits have always been a favorite at this house. It even simulates the fire my husband would cause if we ever allowed him at the wiring. Grand fun!

Click here for the outstanding PhET Circuit Construction Sim

Take time to poke around their site for other science simulation treasures.

One final note: Make sure you pitch your mad scientist out into the sunshine for some physical activity every now and then.

So, how are you going to stimulate your mad scientist this Summer?


Neighbor Nancy’s Neighborhood in Watercolor


Somewhere along the way, between childhood and adulthood lived on the same property, neighbors have moved in. Many of whom are artists. On the 1.5 miles that make up my country road there live 4 artists — that I know of.

It’s kind of funny as I struggle to take mediocre pictures of my goings on as these folks create true beauty.

My mom just sent me a link.

The Bensonworks Art Studio.

Joanne Benson ( to whom I have probably waved a million times without even realizing it ) has done a lovely “Benton Road and Around the Block” series. This is my neighborhood.

So many of you have asked, so there it is in watercolor.

Make sure you look for “Shed in Late Day Winter Light” as it is a lovely watercolor of the playhouse from my Snow Day Secrets post

Maybe someday, she’ll even paint me in my apron and sun hat feeding my chickens. Don’t laugh. A country girl can dream, can’t she?!

Thank you, Joanne. It is wonderful to see it all captured so charmingly.

Neighborly Advice Vol. 5: Neighboorhood Gone Wild With Free Food


A. Onion Grass  B. Mint  C. Violets  D. Dandelion

A. Onion Grass B. Mint C. Violets D. Dandelion

With beginner articles on Mason Bees; Mushrooms; Crystallized Edible Flowers and Fruits; Dandelion Bread, Soup, Salad, Casserole and Wine; Violet Jelly; Sugared Violets; Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves; Outdoorsy Kid Activities, you could say we’ve gone a little wild this week. Join your neighbors for a new adventure!

Congratulations to Jen Neff, the only one to get all 4 correct in the You’re Eating WHAT From Your Lawn Quiz.

After we harvest some wild goodies, let’s head into the kitchen to make a feast from our foraged finds.  Don’t be afraid.  Open your palate to something new.  We’re all adults here.  If we are brave enough to step out of our comfort zone, then we open ourselves to a whole new world of learning, adventure and … well, free gourmet food.

In The Kitchen/ Into The Wild

Surfer Sam inspired the creative juices for this weeks edition with the following comprehensive article.

Everything Mushrooms — varieties, recipes, etc.

Langdon Cook’s new book, Fat of the Land: Adventures of A 21st Century Forager sounds like my kind of adventure. From his blog we have…

Dandy Muffins and Bread

Here are more dandelion recipes from all over…

Dandelion Fritters

Dandelion Pesto

Dandelion Soup or Dandelion Salad w/ Eggs or Italian Dandelion Casserole or Dandelion Wine

And just look at all the fun we can have with violets.

Violet Jelly

Sugared Violets

Crystallized Edible Flowers and Fruits

I am particularly eager to try the two recipes that follow as I have never tried either.

Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves

Simple Delicious Fiddlehead Fern Recipe

Waiting to be mounted to get morning sun, afternoon shade, one of my semi-homemade mason bee homes.  Attracting more pollinators means more garden goodies!

Waiting to be mounted to get morning sun, afternoon shade, one of my semi-homemade mason bee homes. Attracting more pollinators means more garden goodies!

In The Backyard Barnyard

How to Build a Mason ( Orchard ) Bee House

Beneficial Bugs: Mason Bees

Attracting Pollinators

Mason Bees

Shaw, age 6, explains how to make candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explains how to make candied violets.

Up In The Tree House

Make Your Own Printable Birthday Cards

Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Could Do It

Sorry for the quickie edition

In case you missed the past editions, here are the links:

Neighborly Advice Vol 1pizza dough, making jam, using a pressure cooker, learning to knit, rescuing lost stitches, adding goats to your backyard

Neighborly Advice Vol 2 — kool-aid dye, spinning wool, kids’ activities, natural egg dyes, keeping chickens, line drying clothes, making applesauce, finding your sanity, pickling eggs, frugal groceries, growing peas, tomatoes and even worms

Neighborly Advice Vol 3 — grocery budgets, foraging free food, starting a garden, seed tape, hemming pants, chickens, turkeys, fruit trees, goat cheese, fermentation, kid’s activities and my favorite book sale

Neighborly Advice Vol 4 — making marshmallows, starting a garden, planting potatoes, herbs and onions, charming row markers, slow-roasted tomatoes, foraging free food, kids’ activity to-do list, 100 ways to cook eggs, tabletop gardening, and even starting an aquarium

Candied Violets — So Easy A Child Can Do It


Well, happy Friday, everyone!  My son has a project for you.

This time each year my lawn is full of violets.

Shaw, age 6, making his candied violets.

Shaw, age 6, explaining how to make candied violets.

Here’s a nice beginner cooking project that brings Spring to the kitchen. Shaw will show you how to make candied violets and how he adds them to his favorite dessert, ice cream.

Let’s begin:

1. Pick a nice sized bunch of violets from a chemical-free lawn.

2. Gently rinse them in a colander and allow to drain.

3. With the help of an adult, separate two egg whites.

4. Beat the egg whites with a wire whisk, until just frothy.

5. By holding the stem, dip each flower in the frothy egg whites. Make sure the flower is completely covered with egg white.

6. Lay the eggy flower in a little bowl of sugar. Spoon sugar from around the violet to cover it.

7. Gently shake the excess sugar from the flower.

8. Dry on a sheet of waxed paper.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

French Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Violets and pictorial instructions, of course.

Now, decorate your cup cakes or add them to your ice cream. Surprise your friends by showing them how to eat a little bit of Spring.

What ways can you think of to add violets to your food?

This week’s “Neighborly Advice” will include more advanced violet recipes for more formal use.

Join us for the fun. Let’s get picking!

Great Depression Recipes: Rhubarb Tapioca


Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Join me as I head back to the rhubarb patch and we shall make some goodies.

As I have gotten a lot of requests for more of this kind of thing, here is another Great Depression recipe courtesy of the USDA circa the 1930s.

And remember, if this doesn’t suit your taste, check the Cooking/Baking Basics or Waiting-For-Payday Categories at the right for other ideas. Or try the “search” bar above the little calendar.

Rhubarb Tapioca

hm … probably the two most mysterious foods in one recipe, which, of course, means we have to try it.

Ingredients:

4 cups Rhubarb, cut into little pieces

2 cups Water, hot

1/2 cup quick-cooking Tapioca ( Isn’t it all quick cooking these days, 80 years later? Who knows? Check the box.)

1 + 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Procedure:

1. In the top of a double boiler, over steam, stir the rhubarb, water and tapioca for about 15 minutes. No double boiler? Click here to make do.

2. Stir in the sugar and salt.

3. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until the tapioca is clear and the rhubarb is tender.

4. Chill thoroughly and serve it plain, with whipped cream or, perhaps garnished with a strawberry slice or two.

More rhubarb  harvest, storage and recipes to come.

Now here is the big question:

I never buy tapioca, but I always seem to have it. Why is that?

Does this happen to anyone else?

Great Depression Recipes: Rhubarb Crunch


Freshly tugged from the garden, rhubarb awaits chopping.

Freshly tugged from the garden, rhubarb awaits chopping.

(Neighbor Nancy wipes the tiniest glisten of drool from the corner of her mouth as she shares this recipe. While the aroma of a fresh batch of Rhubarb Crunch fills her little home, she digs in the freezer for vanilla ice cream.)

Ah, rhubarb crunch time. It means that spring is officially here. It means that I must make sure the strawberries are doing well. For all too soon, the last of the rhubarb will be mixed with the first of the strawberries to make batches of Strawberry Rhubarb jam for Christmas presents.

From my earliest childhood memories, Spring covered dish Suppers always required a batch of Rhubarb Crunch.

I have had it covered in cream, drizzled with vanilla sauce. Hot. Cold. Scraped from the final bits of the pan. But, hot out of the oven with a single scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream … (sigh) … heavenly.

So from the depths of the family recipe box…(oh my, is this a crusty well-loved recipe card?! ) … here we go.

Rhubarb Crunch

Ingredients:

Crunch bottom and topping:

1+1/4 cup Flour

1 cup rolled Oats, quick or regular

1+1/4 cup Brown Sugar

10 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Fruit Mixture:

4 heaping cups Rhubarb, diced

1 cup Sugar

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

1 cup Water

1 teaspoon Vanilla

Procedure:

In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and melted butter.

Press about half of this mixture into the bottom of a 9″x 13″pan. Set the rest aside.

Cover with all the diced rhubarb. Set aside

In a small sauce pan, combine the white sugar and cornstarch.

Over medium low heat, stir in the water. Heat and stir, until it boils and becomes clear and smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the entire mixture over the rhubarb in the pan.

Cover with the remaining oat mixture. This, of course is the “crunch” part.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit ( a medium oven ) for 1 hour.

Serve it warm or cold.

Top it with cream, vanilla sauce or ice cream.

Warning: Beware of the Rhubarb Crunch phenomenon. Do not tell jokes while eating this dessert, because as you laugh,it will feel like your jaw will blow off. The more you laugh the more it hurts. No one knows why and it happens every time.

So, with what are you going to top your batch?