Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hard Choices

I love Make it from Scratch. I love the carnival. I love the variety of contributors here, and of course all you readers that have support us.

But I don't think MIFS is all that it could be. I have spread myself too thin, and been unable to give this blog the attention I would like to. That can be said about many areas of my life right now. The tragic events of this summer have forced changes and choices. We, as a family, and I, personally need to pull in, downsize, and regroup. The choices and processes have not been easy, but they are necessary.

One of the hard choices is this blog. The time has come to set it aside, indefinitely. My attention and time need to be focused elsewhere right now.

So, this is goodbye to Make it from Scratch. I plan to continue my personal blog, Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood, and will probably incorporate more recipes and the like there than I have been in recent years. A big thank you goes to our contributors, past and present. I hope you continue to visit them at their personal blogs. Thanks Jenn at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven, Mary at Simply Forties, Rina at Gotta Little Space, Jenn at Frugal Front Porch, and Liss at Frill in the Hills. Thanks also go to former contributors, Kellie, and Heather.

Thanks too to our readers and everyone who has participated in the carnival. Sharing ideas, recipes, and projects is what this blog is all about, and it never could have been with out the contributors and participants to this site and carnival. I wish you continued success in combining frugality and creativity.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And the winner is . . .

The winner of the Nakano Seasoned Rice giveaway is lucky number 13 - Jenny.  Jenny please email me or a leave a comment with your email so I can get your information for the prize package, or email me at makeitfromscratch at If I do not hear from you by Friday, I will have to pick another winner.

Cherry Tomatoes Packed in Oil

My cherry tomatoes, in fact all of my tomatoes, did very poorly this year.  If you had better luck you're probably up to your ears in the little buggers by now.  Try this method to preserve a whole bunch of them easily and quickly!

Cherry Tomatoes
Small onions (baby or maybe pearl) or shallots
Cider vinegar or lemon juice (1-2 tablespoons per 16 oz jar)
Fresh basil, tarragon, oregano etc to taste
Coarse salt
Olive oil
Canning jars and lids

Tomatoes must be firm and ripe. If you're using another type, select the smallest ones (no bigger than a tangerine).

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Peel several of the onions or shallots.

Prepare scalded or sterilized 16 ounce jars. Fill them with tomatoes, alternating with a few onions and herbs. When the jars are filled to about one and a half inches from the rim, sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt. Add one or two tablespoons or cider vinegar or lemon juice, and cover with olive oil.

Close the jars with a very clean lid, and store them in a rather cool place (50 to 59 degrees F) (think fridge). The tomatoes will be ready to eat in two to three months and will keep for up to a year. They go well served with grains or with meat.

Ann Duran, St. Front France

From Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Carnival #182 - Apple Sauce

Welcome to the carnival! The Make it from Scratch carnival is your chance to share your projects. I hope you join us by linking up at the bottom of this post.

The peak of apples season is just around the corner. Depending on the variety of apples available to you, you may find them plentiful now. You can pick your own or purchase them in quantity for a good price. There are so many wonderful things you can make with apples to consume now, or to preserve for later. If your family eats applesauce like mine does, applesauce will be at the top of the to make list.

Making applesauce is very easy. It really is just cooked mushed apples. If you are making quantities to preserve, it does take a bit of time, but is a simple process. A good firm, slightly tart variety of apple make the best sauce in my opinion. Transparents are wonderful, but I usually have more Golden Delicious available to me, and that is what I use.

First quarter the apples. No need to peel or core. Place them in a large pot with enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. Cook on medium high heat. Be sure to stir periodically and to scrape the bottom. A little bit of scorching will change the flavor of the whole batch. When the apples are very mushy, they are ready to be processed.

A Sauce Master makes quick work of the apples producing a nice thick sauce and removing all the seeds and peels. If you don't have a Sauce Master, the cooked apples can also be pushed through a sieve to remove the unwanted parts. Alternatively, apples can be peeled and cored before cooking. They will cook to a mush with stirring.

Applesauce freezes and cans well. To freeze, sweeten the sauce if desired, and fill containers; freezer boxes, jars, or even recycled containers like yogurt ones work well. Be sure to leave plenty of head space (about an inch) for the sauce to expand as it freezes.

To can the applesauce, heat the sauce and sweeten if desired. Pack into clean hot jars, and put lids on. My canning book recommends 1/2 inch head space. I've found that an inch head space really works better. Jars can be sealed with a pressure canner or in boiling water. Pressure can at 6 pounds pressure, 8 minutes for pints and 10 minutes for quarts. Or process in boiling water 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.

Trouble Shooting
The biggest problem I have had with canning apple sauce is the jars oozing out apple sauce when I removed them from the pressure canner. The jars still seal. The sauce is still good, but it makes a big sticky mess. Here are some tips to help avoid that problem:

  • Leave extra head space.
  • Make the sauce a bit thinner.
  • Let the jars cool longer in the canner. It seems to be the sudden temperature change that causes the oozing. Letting the jars cool slowly has been the best fix for the problem.
Need more apple ideas?
Apple Ginger Preserves
Crockpot Apple Butter
Apple Cider Vinegar
Canning Sliced Apples
Apple Pie Filling

Don't forget to enter our Nakano Giveaway. Win $35 gift card, Nakano seasoned rice vinegar, and a recipe booklet. Drawing is tomorrow.

Stephanie is a mom, homeschooler, homesteader in the hills of West Virginia. Find more of her adventures at Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.


Carnival Guidelines:

Link up your recipes, crafts, garden projects, yarn creations, home improvement, or other d-i-y posts. Posts about making something, or helpful resources and tips for making things are what we are all about.

Please link directly to the post, not to home page of your blog. Kindly link back to the carnival with twitter, stumble and/or from your blog.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker?

Doing the August Daring Bakers' Challenge here in East Tennessee with most of my kitchen gadgets packed away forced me to work a little harder.  Making ice cream without any sort of ice cream maker was new to me and was surprisingly successful.  If you don't have an ice cream maker you might like to give this a try.  The result was every bit as creamy and smooth as any ice cream I ever made in my appliance.  I may never unpack it again!

I used David Lebovitz's Basic Vanilla, which follows, for inclusion in my Baked Alaska.  Feel free to use it or any custard-based ice cream recipe.

Vanilla Ice Cream
About 1 quart (1l)
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)
For a richer custard, you can add up to 3 more egg yolks. For a less-rich custard, substitute half-and-half for the heavy cream, realizing that the final texture won’t be as rich or as smooth as if using cream.
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.
2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight. You can also chill your custard in an ice bath, which will move things along more quickly.
6. Pour your cooled custard into a stainless steel bowl or something equally durable and stick it in the freezer.
7. Here's the important part - every 30 minutes VIGOROUSLY whisk your custard.  That's right - VIGOROUSLY!  It's hard to make yourself do this because you won't want to break up the freezing ice cream, especially since you (or your kids) probably have your bowl and spoon ready!  Do it anyway.  This is what makes the ice cream smooth and creamy.  All those ice crystals need to be broken apart.  Set your timer and whisk your custard every 30 minutes or 45 minutes for the first three or four hours.  Make your kids do this part and it's even easier!
8.  After 3 or 4 hours your ice cream will be at the soft serve stage and can be eaten.  If you don't want to eat it yet, at this point you can stop whisking it and let it freeze hard.
Delicious and oh so easy!
Don't forget to rinse your pieces of vanilla bean and stick them in a cup or two of sugar to make delicious vanilla sugar!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nakano Seasoned Rice Vinegar - Giveaway! *closed*

Nakano is introducing a line of seasoned rice vinegar. The new seasoned flavors include red pepper, pesto, balsamic blend, Italian herb, and the roasted garlic flavor that they sent me (along with a $50 gift card) to try the product and share it with you.

Rice vinegar is wonderful for adding a light flavor to your favorite foods with out adding fat or a lot of calories. It is also gluten free. I used the Roasted Garlic vinegar I was sent to make Summer Garden Chicken. I simply splashed it over the meat and veggies for a delicious subtle garlic flavor.

Find more great recipes and serving suggestions at their website. The Baked Goat Cheese with Tangy Pesto Spinach is something that I want to try. It would be especially good if I made my own goat cheese. (It is on the to do list.)

Want to give Nakana Seasoned Rice Vinegar a try? Enter to win! The prize package includes a $25 gift card, 1 bottle of seasoned vinegar, and a coupon and recipe booklet. Do one, two, or three of the following for your chance to win. Just please be sure to leave a separate comment here for each of the options you choose.

1.      Sign up for the NAKANO SPLASH Recipe Club to receive a free monthly e-newsletter featuring great recipes and tips.

2.      NAKANO is on Facebook! Become a fan.

3.      Visit the NAKANO website then come back and tell us what your favorite Splash tip is.

A winner will be picked this Friday, September third. Good luck!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spicy Pickled Green Beans

First time pickling green beans, over here. I think it went well...I guess we'll find out in a few months! My in laws are on vacation and told me I could harvest in the garden. I'd wanted to try simple green bean canning and since my beans are coming to an end, I'm jumping at the chance to pick some of their green beans!

Are you pickling/canning/putting anything up this year?

Spicy Pickled Green Beans
Makes 4 pints

3 pounds green beans
4 long thin red chilies (use gloves when handling!)
3 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1/4 cup fresh dill
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1/4 cup salt

Trim and remove string from green beans. Cut to fit into jars. Prepare jars, rings and lids for canning.

Bring water, vinegar and salt to the boil.

Fill each jar with beans until they are snug. Insert chilies and garlic. Divide peppercorns amongst jars. Divide dill amongst jars. Ladle the boiled pickling liquid into the jars leaving headspace. Wipe rims of jars, apply lid and screw on rings. Process in boiling water bath for 12 minutes.

Remove carefully and allow to cool to room temperature. During this cooling time, you'll hear quiet pops letting you know your jars have sealed. If by the next day, some of the jars haven't sealed, you can store in refrigerator to be eaten as soon as possible. Allow the sealed jars to sit at least one month in a cool, dark place before opening.

Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!