Sunday, October 20, 2013

Say hello to my little friend - the Progressive International Canning Scoop

Long day yesterday- I made 6 quarts of apple pie filling. The Backyard Farmer is spoiling me by offering delivery in my area. They brought me a big box of Fuji and Granny Smith apples last week along with some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and a bag for feed for the hens. Gotta love it.

I'm trying out a new recipe this year. It was quite tasty before it hit the jars so it should be pretty good in recipes. I found it here along with some good basic canning tips and a recipe for pie crust made without shortening (butter only).

Before I head of to work, I must tell you all about the. . .

Best. Canning. Tool. Ever.

Okay, so maybe I do like my jar lifter just as much for safety purposes, but this little beauty comes in a close second. I can't remember if I saw the Progressive International Canning Scoop on a blog or if it was an Amazon* suggestion but I am so glad I bought it. All the reviews for this were excellent. The shape is perfect for ladling fruit into your jars, but it's pointed enough at the end to be able to get out every last drop of liquid. It has a generous size bowl and a hook so you can hang it on the edge of your pot. It won't stain or rust. I love it! I used it to can apple pie filling yesterday and it made much less of a mess than my old ladle. Making jam will be so much easier with this in my canning arsenal.

*And yes, I am an Amazon Associate so if you go to Amazon thru a link on my blog to make your purchase, I do get a tiny fee. That doesn't raise your price at all, but it helps me with the occasional Amazon gift certificate. And I thank you for that!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cute Crafty Seed Packets

Look at what I found on my desk today when I came to work!
My coworker Tracy had promised me some seeds but I never thought I'd get them in such  adorable little envelopes. She crafted these from leftover scrapbook paper. What a fun idea!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Canning Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

A long night of canning - 5 quarts of pickles and 4 quarts of Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

It was love at first sip for me and strawberry lemonade. Summer in the valley brings great prices on flats of strawberries at Superstition Ranch Market, and winter means friends are begging me to take lemons off their hands. What could be better than an inexpensive drink chock full of Vitamin C?

At any given time our freezer is overflowing with pureed strawberries, lemon juice, or my strawberry lemonade base. It got to the point that an entire shelf was dedicated to my favorite beverage. Since a second freezer is not possible, I needed a better way to store my strawberry lemonade concentrate. A search turned up this recipe from Ball, the canning company. I had all the ingredients on hand and I canned up a batch when I last made pickles. Other bloggers had success with quarts instead of pints and that's the way I went with the project. I did add about 7 minutes to the water bath processing time. Finally- more room in the freezer!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Holy Honeydew!

If you live in the East Valley you may have heard of The Backyard Farmer aka Veggies Someone mentioned them in a local Facebook group and I had to try them for myself. Local produce? Delivered to my door? They take PayPal? I couldn't get to their website fast enough.

The veggie and fruit selection is not bad, but even more fabulous- they also carry baked goods, canning supplies, bulk grains, homemade soaps, grass fed beef, and even animal feed. I can't list everything they carry so please check out their website for the full list. You'll be blown away. No kidding!

We purchase chicken feed and grains frequently so I know my prices. The organic grains are the same price as the place I had been buying it. The chicken feed was very close, buy hey - no hauling- they drop it off in my driveway! Veg and fruits are a bit more than Sprouts, but usually much bigger.

There are plenty of testimonials on their website, so please check it out. Personally, I am impressed. The honeydew in the photo above weighed in at a hefty 9 lbs for under $4. Selection varies weekly. Read the "Important Info" on their website for order deadlines and delivery dates. And yes, delivery is free, but there is a place to include a tip for the driver on your bill.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hey KMart? Are you listening?

Yes KMart - here is yet another incident of your famous exploding Martha Stewart tables that you've been ignoring for years. This time it was in my backyard.

At 5:45 am this morning it was overcast and cool, kind of rare for the Arizona desert at this time of year. The sun was just beginning to peek through the clouds. After returning from outside to feed our hens I had just sat down on the couch when I heard a commotion in the backyard. I've only heard my chickens freaking out like this when danger was approaching, usually in the form of a stray cat or fireworks. I scanned the yard to check on the cause of their upset and whoa! A shattered glass mess under what used to be our fabulous outdoor table with a built in lazy Susan. It was your Martha Stewart table exploding that caused our flock to start screeching. Thankfully they were 30 feet away and not hit by any flying glass.

I'm not stupid. I did my homework. I know this isn't the first time this has happened with your Martha Stewart patio furniture and kitchen tables. Heck, it's not even in the first hundred incidents. Google lists many articles, incidents and several videos. I know you've been sued, I know that people have demanded for several years that you recall these tables, but you keep ignoring the problem.

Here is my dilemma. I think you should compensate me with at least a coupon for 50% off one of your new and improved outdoor tables. I'm not asking for a new one at your expense, the table was in excellent condition but it was several years old, obviously. Still, since it was in excellent condition, we expected to get many more years of use out of it. I will be happy with a very good discount to replace my used table that had a bad design flaw you've been ignoring. If you can't help me with that, I may need to start shopping elsewhere. If you want to know how much I shop in your store I will be happy to send you the number on my rewards card. That way you'll know exactly how much you will be losing if I decline to return to your store.

Honestly, I love KMart. Your employees are wonderful at your Lindsay and Main location here in Mesa, AZ. When I check out, they not only thank me for shopping there, they say "Thank you for shopping with us and keeping us open." And they mean it! They keep the store clean and stocked and they are always helpful. You have the best sales on the paper goods, toiletries, and cleaning products that we use, and it is the only place I buy our socks, t-shirts, undies, etc. You get the picture. I am 48 years old. No joke- I have been shopping at this KMart location since I was 15 years old and new to Arizona. I've been a loyal customer for 33 years and I hope that means something to you.

So please don't let me down. Are you listening KMart?