Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Canning Boston Baked Beans

Recently my grandmother passed, and she has been my garden confidant and canning champion the past few years.  I don't have anything to can from the garden yet, so I decided to try to can a big batch of Boston baked beans instead.  It felt like a simple way to keep her close to my heart.  When I work in my garden each year, I will certainly be thinking of her.

I got two large bags of Great Northern beans and soaked them overnight.  Then I drained them and topped off with fresh water.  I boiled them until the skins started to split.  I layered them in my two hugest baking pans with chopped onions, green peppers, bacon, and a sauce made from molasses, salt, dry mustard, the water I boiled them in, and brown sugar.  I baked them for 3 hours at 325.

They had to be processed in the pressure canner for 85 minutes.  It was a long day to make these beans, but I ended up with 16 pints (plus a couple of pints I left out that we ate for dinner that night), and they have a great flavor.  Plus, baked beans are so inexpensive to make! 

Readers, are there ways you like to honor the memory of your relatives?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Rampicante Squash Muffins Recipe

Remember last year when I grew so many rampicante squash in my garden?  I froze some of it (it's quite similar to zucchini, and you could use zucchini in this recipe if you didn't have rampicante) and decided to make some muffins recently.  I'm happy to say that these are kid approved!

You will need:
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp. maple flavoring (or use vanilla extract if you don't have this)
2 cups shredded rampicante squash
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup extra ingredient (nuts, chopped apricots, raisins or butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray muffin tin with cooking spray (or lightly grease). Mix eggs, oil, and sugars.  Stir in squash.  Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed.  Fold in your extra ingredient (I used butterscotch chips).

Bake for 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  These are fairly healthy, and make a great breakfast-on-the-go muffin (they aren't as crumbly as some muffins).  My boys love when I send them as a school snack.

Yield = 15 medium muffins

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spring, Finally

I'm glad it's spring and I can move into warmer weather and gardening season.  I have a few random reflections on the winter.

We went through a lot of the home canned goods this winter.  By January we had run through all 12 pints of salsa I canned last summer.  This year I need to make more.  The boys loved the canned carrots and canned green beans.  Only Reid and Paul and I like the beets, but I'm working on the other two.  We used up most of the jams and jellies, and discovered that autumn olive is our new favorite jelly - next year I hope to make a lot more.  Some of the squash I stored never got used, and I had to throw it away in March when it started to rot.  This year I'm planting less squash.

Last month St. Patrick's Day resulted in little Leprechaun traps all over the house.  The twins were quite devoted in creating these, and they seemed to be around every corner.  Alas, they were still empty on March 18th.  Maybe next year.

I read the boys classics like Hatchet and Old Yeller this winter, when the days were short and the wood stove was going.  They loved both books.

I put down a layer of hay in the garden for weed control.  I look forward to warm hands in the dirt and putting in seeds this month.

Readers, do you have any winter reflections?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How Green Valley Book Fair

The boys had a teacher workday recently and we decided to meet my mom and head north for the day to the Green Valley book fair, near Harrisonburg.  I've blogged before about this amazing warehouse sale of discounted books.  It's a happy place for sure.

We all found books we loved.  I got several animal memoirs - heartwarming stories about animals who changed their owners' lives for the better in some way.

Then we headed to Wright's Dairy-Rite.  Pierce has been begging to return there since we went a couple of years ago.  This little diner has been an institution in Staunton for many years.

Pierce loves it because he gets to phone in our orders from a phone right at the booth.  He also likes the jukebox.

I like it because they have chocolate soft serve cones that are dipped in peanut butter shell.  That's right, chocolate and peanut butter.  My favorite combination!  And they are as delicious as you might imagine. 

It was a fun day, and a good way to see out the dreary winter months.