Friday, April 18, 2014

Canning Mushrooms

Recently O Wise One found mushrooms on sale at a local grocery store. We love mushrooms in many dishes and the small 4 ounce cans of mushrooms are expensive to buy. Fresh mushrooms do not last long in the refrigerator. So when we catch mushrooms on sale we like to can our own. 

We bought 10 packages or 5 pounds of fresh mushrooms. 

First they were removed from the packages and I placed the mushrooms in cold water to soak for a few minutes to remove dirt. 

Many of the canned mushrooms you buy are shipped in from overseas and many from China. Not mine! My mushrooms came from the sovereign state of Illinois.

And they even came in recyclable containers. The trimmings went to the chickens and the only thing that went in the trash was the plastic covering and the label.  

While my mushrooms were soaking I got my jars clean and ready to go. 

Then I washed and sliced my mushrooms. 

Then my mushroom slices went into a pot to boil for 15 minutes. 

Then I packed my hot mushrooms into hot jelly jars

Into each jar I placed 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon of fruit fresh powder. 

Then I wiped my rims to clean them and poured clean boiling water over the mushrooms to cover leaving 1 inch head space. 

Remove air bubbles and seal. 

Then my hot jars were placed in my pressure canner 

I added a second rack and double stacked my canner.  

Then I sealed my canner up and cooked my mushrooms on 10 pounds pressure for 45 minutes. 

Once the canner had cooled I removed my jars and allowed them to cool overnight. 

And there you have it 23 jars of canned mushrooms ready to go into my casseroles, soups and stews, or maybe sauteed in butter with onions to go over those steaks. 

No cans of Chinese mushrooms in my pantry. 

I bought 10 packages (8 oz) for .98 per carton. A total of 23 jars of canned mushrooms went in my pantry.  21 four once jars and 2 half pints. Cost per jar  42 cents. Average cost for a 4 oz can of mushrooms in the store $1.38. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Egg Bread

As Easter season is upon us here in Hickery Holler we see the return of the eggs. Our chickens lay sparingly in the cold, dark, short days of winter and during molting. We could put a light on the chickens all winter but instead of incurring that expense we simply eat fewer eggs and let the chickens have a rest too. 

Once the days lengthen and the sun begins to shine in early spring my refrigerator again fills with eggs. As a general rule enough for me to cook, enough to hatch meat birds to can in the fall and then enough for the neighbors that choose to purchase them. I think it is no coincidence that eggs play such a prominent role in Easter foods and activities considering the holiday falls at exactly the time that the hens start to go into full production and before any of them get broody and set. 

The eggs pictured above are turkey eggs waiting to be put in the incubator. Turkey eggs by the way are very rich and are great for baking cakes and such. Same with goose and duck eggs. Guinea eggs are also great as a substitute for chicken eggs either boiled or prepared for breakfast scrambled. 

With plenty of eggs being produced I thought I would bake some egg bread for Easter.  I wanted some to freeze because it make the best french toast ever. Many cultures have this type of bread in their Easter/Passover celebrations. The Jewish have a similar eggs based bread called Challah. Where I grew up outside New Orleans the french influence abounded and you saw a french egg sweet bread called brioche. All of these breads are rich in eggs which would be plentiful this time of year. Butter which would also be plentiful since most calves on a farm are planned for the spring. Therefore the cows would be milking making both cream and butter plentiful and easily accessible. 

So I decided to share my Egg Bread recipe. This recipe makes two large braided loaves.   

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
6 eggs room temperature
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
pinch of salt

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water (110 degrees F )
I add a tbs of the sugar to this to feed the yeast. Let yeast sit and rise or proof.

Once yeast has formed a thick foam add 6 eggs, softened butter cut into chunks, remaining sugar, and salt. 

Add about 3 cups of the flour and stir to make a soft sticky dough. Turn onto floured surface gradually add remaining flour  while kneading until smooth and elastic. I knead about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a well  buttered bowl and allow to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. Then I punch down and let it rise a second time until again doubled in size.

Punch down and divide dough in half. Divide each half into the pieces and each half should make three strands about 10 to 12 inches long. Braid the three strands to make a loaf. Then braid the remaining three strands to make a second loaf.  

Combine that last remaining egg ( number 7) and a pinch of salt and beat together. Place braided loaves on individual baking sheets that have been greased. Brush each loaf with egg and salt solution. Allow loaf to double in size. Brush with egg yolk solution a second time once the dough is ready to go into the oven. Sesame or poppy seeds may be added on top at this time if desired. 

Place baking sheets in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20 to 40 minutes depending on your oven. Watch closely.

Turn out once browned and allow to cool. 

I then brush mine with melted butter.

 I sliced one loaf and froze the slices to make oven french toast on Easter. 

Baby O had french toast for breakfast the next day. She has tested and approved this recipe.....

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy Birthday To Owen

Sunday everyone celebrated a momentous occasion. Owen the youngest of my grandchildren turned one.

Hank was so proud of his baby brother.

And Owen has grown into quite the character.

Happy Birthday Owen !!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Goose Breast

Wild goose season was recently open for snows and blues which are types of wild geese. 

O Wise One took advantage of goose season recently and we froze several trays of goose breast .  

Goose breast is a very dark and rich meat almost like liver. 

If anyone is interested I will try to do a couple post on how to cook it. As you may have guessed geese are plentiful in this area and the area used to attract goose hunters from all over the country. The sport is not nearly as popular as it once was. O Wise One was raised eating wild goose meat. This is one meat that I do not particularly care for. 

Anyone else out there ever ate wild goose?

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


Monday, April 14, 2014

A Year Round Endeavor

Welcome to Hickery Holler here on this Monday morning. It is snowing this morning !! As most of you that follow this blog regularly know we try to produce as much of our food here on the farm as possible. Not everything because I truly don't know that it is possible but most. When you do that food production and preservation is truly a year round endeavor. Even though we did not produce anything during the cold months of deep winter we spent most of the winter cracking and picking out the nuts we had gathered in the fall. We are down to half a 5 gallon bucket of walnuts left and 1 five gallon bucket of pecans left. For us it is not unusual to have a tray of cracked walnuts or pecans sitting on the dining room table all winter. Our spare moments are spent sitting there picking them out to freeze for later use in my baked goods and such throughout the year. We are blessed to have not only walnut but also pecan, hickory and chestnut here on the farm.  Nuts are so expensive to buy we really try to beat the squirrels to as many as possible. 

The shelled nuts are then put into bags

or jars and frozen. 

It usually takes us all winter to get them all cracked, picked out and frozen.

The nut trees on our property have paid for themselves many times over and have been one of our better investments. It does take a few years for them to bear but once they do it is nice not to have to buy nuts.  

And yesterday O Wise One brought in a surprise for me. Our first bowl of asparagus spears for the 2014 season.  For the next 8 weeks there should be steady supply of asparagus to can, freeze, dehydrate and pickle. 

So the gathering begins again for another year. As one seasons work runs into the next season and we work to finish up the fall nuts just in time for the spring asparagus pickings we are thankful for our bounty and the health to forage and gather it. 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter
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