Sunday, 29 July 2012

Taking Care of the Home

I got a great compliment the other day. When I mentioned to my dad that I'd made another three jars of raspberry jam, he commented "Well, you're becoming a real homesteader now, making your own food." It made me feel quite proud.

But being a homesteader (to me) isn't just about having a garden and processing what comes out of it. It's reminiscent of pioneer times, when men worked from dawn to dusk in the fields and women worked in the home to make sure everything was ship-shape and the children were raised right. Yes, a part of that was making sure there was food on the table, but the larger part of it was taking care of all the details. Laundry had to be washed (but first the soap had to be made!). To have chicken for supper a chicken had to be raised, killed, plucked, and cooked. A simple breakfast of eggs meant going to gather them from the hen-house. Milk the cow twice a day. Sew the clothes, shear sheep, card and spin all the wool. The list goes on and on. Back then there was no "vegging in front of the TV" - there was always work to be done and a lazy person was frowned upon. Even their hobbies were constructive - knitting, sewing, carving, all produced useful items.

So the point of all this is to make you think: instead of sitting here in front of the computer, what could you be doing that is constructive and useful?

Like my mom always says, "Man may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done!"

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Fruit Press

As everyone knows, I'm on a kick to learn how to build things myself, so I found it really interesting when surfing on that they have an article on how to build your own fruit press (for apples or grapes, it lists, but I'm sure you could use it for other fruit too).

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Making Jam

Well the berries are ready for picking. Went out to the lake and got some saskatoons (but the baby ate them ALL... wow...) and now all the raspberries are ready. And I will have raspberries coming out my EARS this summer, so I've decided to make jam (even though my husband prefers raspberry milkshakes... there will be plenty for everyone!).

So here are some easy instructions on how to make raspberry jam. Head down to J&P to buy some liquid pectin to make the job super-easy! (NOTE: you will need a canning pot and jars with lids)

1) Pick the berries and squish them (aim for 6 cups squished berries, as this is what this recipe uses).
2) Sanitize the jars (if you boil them 5 more minutes it will get the same effect, but you may end up with mushy jam.
3) Measure out 7 cups of sugar (some recipes I've read would use up to 10-12 cups sugar for this amount of raspberries, but I don't want to get diabetes just from eating my jam!) and grab your packet of liquid pectin.
4) Stir the pectin and 2 cups sugar into the berries and put into a pot over medium to high heat and get to a solid boil (should take 5-10 minutes)
5) meanwhile, put the lids in warm (not boiling) water
6) add the rest of the sugar and bring to boil 1 more minute
7) you may skim the foam off at this point
8) use a teaspoon to take a bit of the jam out. Let it cool. This will show you the consistency of your jam.
9) (Optional) Let stand 5 minutes and stir
10) Fill the jars with the mixture and put the lids on.
11) Put the jars into the canning pot. Make sure there is at least 2 inches water above them. Boil for at least 5-10 minutes but any longer than that and the jam will be runny.
12) Lift the jars out and let them cool overnight in a draft-free place
13) After cooling overnight you can take the outer rings (not the actual lids) off, so they don't rust. Also check to see all the seals held. If not, you'll have to re-can them right away (within 24 hours of the last attempt) or refridgerate and use within the next few days.

These jars will be good for 6-12 months. Be sure to use a permanent marker (or label) to write down the jar contents and the date.

Happy canning!