March has definitely came in like a lion this year and we have gotten continued occasional snow flurries several times this week. We continue to have a good foot of snow cover but it is slowly melting. They are predicting rain for the weekend and the roads are already a slushy mess. This is the time of year I hate living on dirt and gravel roads. They become quagmires of sinking mud.
We have taken this time to catch up on inside chores as we await warmer and drier weather. While I worked on quilting O Wise One reorganized the pantry taking all the jars out, dusting and checking seals and then reorganizing the shelves with all the empty jars on the bottom shelves and all the uneaten food on the upper shelves. This also gives us an inventory of what we still have lots of and what we need to plant more of for the upcoming gardening year. This gives us an idea of what seeds we have and what we need more of. It also gave us a chance to reevaluate some of our experiments from last year.
For the first time last year we canned asparagus in jars. Normally asparagus is put in the freezer but with freezer room at a premium we experimented with canning. The flavor was WONDERFUL......the texture was mushy. We are going to experiment with this one again and try lowering the pressure or time that it is in the canner to try to improve the texture. Notice: Try this at your own risk!!
I was also not a fan of the canned caramelized onions. This was not a USDA sanctioned recipe use caution if trying this recipe.
Or the canned coleslaw. I think that it just does not produce a quality product. This was not a USDA sanctioned recipe so be careful if you try it.
On the other hand the freezer slaw was GREAT and we plan to put up much more of that this year. It had a much better flavor and texture than the canned slaw! We ate on freezer slaw clear into January and when greens are out of season this is a great alternative.
And notice the potatoes above that are falling apart. I over processed these by mistake cooking them way too long. On the flip side these make wonderful instant mashed potatoes and potato soup. I may have to accidentally do that again. Be careful about not cooking these to pieces though because if you produce something too thick it could have a negative outcome on it's shelf life.
And after 2 years we have pretty well totally removed ourselves from purchased meat of any kind.
We eat a rich and varied diet of homegrown canned or frozen vegetables, dehydrated spices and herbs. And a combination of wild venison, which has pretty well replaced beef in our diet, and fish caught in the local ponds and streams. We get great exercise and have fun fishing together.
We now also cure and smoke our own bacon and sausage made from pigs raised right here on this farm and a large part of their diet coming from our own gardens.
Add to that chicken broth and meat both canned and frozen, turkey and broth both canned and frozen and rabbit and broth both canned and frozen all produced here on the farm and you have a healthy diet produced ALMOST exclusively by our own hands. These bone broths are really good for you too! All of these small animals can be raised on smaller tracts of land and are great for us older people because they are smaller and are easier to manage. We are just too old to chase and wrestle with cattle not to mention the cost of fencing.
This lifestyle is not for the faint of heart. It requires hard work and dedication almost daily. Even we are not totally self sufficient as we still purchase all dairy and grains such as rice, flour, corn meal, oils including olive and coconut which we can not produce in our climate and some cleaning supplies such as vinegar and baking sodas. We do purchase a little produce through the year such as fresh citrus and fruits we do not produce such as bananas. During the winter we purchase lettuce from time to time.
Every year we try to experiment with new vegetables and ways of preserving them trying to find what works best for our climate and family size. Even at our age refining existing skills and learning new ones. So again we evaluate what didn't work trying to weed out some of the garbage that flies around online and looking for those tiny bits of true wisdom that are there if you look hard enough and keep a practical outlook on things. We try to ignore the hype and the trends but sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.
Most of all we try to learn from our own mistakes and share what does not work to help those just starting out.
Everyone have a safe and warm weekend and we will see you on Monday : )
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter