Saturday, January 29, 2011

29 January, 2011 Gettin' ready to hit the road soon.

I didn't realize it has been so long since I updated my blog.  The weather has warmed up a bit so we've been working outside.  We're leaving soon for our second annual trip to Lake Mead in Nevada.  It will be nice to get out of the snow and ice for awhile.  The warm wather is nice temperature wise but it melts the snow down into ice which is a pain (expecially if you fall).  When we feed the buffalo we have to wear our ice cleats which, while they keep you from sliding (usually!) they aren't comfortable.  Even with them you have to be careful.  It'll be so good to be able to walk around outside without fear of slipping or falling.

We decided to take the little trailer and my motorcycle with us to Lake Mead this year so we had to get a license for the trailer.  They socked us $89.00 for license and registration fees.  It's light duty two wheel, flatbed trailer with a 1/2 ton rating.  Susan and I can lift it off the ground by ourselves!  I can see why they have a sign on the door of the county offices saying no firearms allowed.  They don't want any competition while robbing you blind. Okay, rant off!  I've got a lot of pictures on this posting so I better get busy here ...

The place we normally get water has a frozen hydrant so we used alternate sources.  This is our youngest son filling them at the fire department.  We also went to the neighbors one day when they had their pump running.  It's only a mile each way to them so that works out well.  We've been getting rain and melted snow for wash water so the plastic jugs last awhile before they need refilled.

Susan's been canning all kinds of food for our trip.  We plan on being gone a couple of months and are trying to bring everything we need except gasoline with us.  We won't have refrigeration so she's canning butter (above) and several other dairy type foods to take with us.  She's using small jars so that when we open them we'll be able to use them up before they spoil.

This is Cream Cheese.  It cans up beautifully.  When you open it you can spoon it out with a knife or spoon to spread it on whatever.

This is cheddar cheese.

These are the "before" pictures of the cram cheese, cheddar cheese and cottage cheese.

She's been heating up the lids to soften the seals prior to placing them on the jars.  The jar on thefar left is cottage cheese.  It's the first time canning it so she only tried one jar.  The one in the center is cream cheese.  The cottage cheese turned watery so she's using it in lasagne for dinner tonight.  We won't can anymore until we find a better way.

And egg-nog prior to canning.

She canned several jars of sausage patties to eat on our trip.  You can eat them cold out of the jar or heat them up or crumble them for use in gravy or cassarole type dishes.

She also canned some bacon for the trip.

She cuts them in half then rolls them up in parchment paper before putting them in the canning jars.  

We save our old lids to use them on jars with dried food.  This is how Susan keeps them separated and organized.  Once the jars seal you can take the rings off and use them on the next load of jars.  In a clockwise direction starting with the top left container she has large rings, small rings, large lids and small lids.  She always uses new lids when canning.

She made a large pot of beans.  We'll have beans and bisquits for dinner (bisquits on the right) and she's also dehydrating the extra beans for later use on out trip.  When you cook them then dehydrate them they're kind of like "minute beans."  Just add water and heat them up and they're ready to eat.  You can also mash them up then rehydrate them and make refried beans. 

The first batch dried and ready for packing.  There will be several more trays to dry yet before we're finished.

These are dehydrated blueberries.  What is in this pan was once five pounds of frozen blueberries.

I've been using the warm weather to get the paneling in the Uhaul.  There will be shelves where the masonite is.  Since the masonite is about 1/4 the cost of the panelling we use it where there'll be shelves or cabinets.  I'm wiring one of the electrical outlets in this photo.

Susan has the curtains sewed and ready to put in the Uhaul.

Some of what we're taking on the trip with us.  Were planning on staying about two months once we get there.  After that it will be too hot there for us "cold country" pansies. 

We'll be taking the Coleman camp oven.  The oven is small so Susan got out some of her smaller baking pans.

We;re using plastic buckets to store things in.  They stack well, are air tight, and are relatively tough.

Time to dig the motorcycle out and get it loaded up.  I'm digging a trench down to the ground behind the MC so we can roll it backwards once it's free.  There is ice around the bottom of the tarp.  We had to break enough free to get the tarp loose.

The dog decide she wanted to dig too.   Too bad I can't channel some of that enthusiasm a more useful direction!

We got it free then walked it down the path to the back of the trailer.  We had the trailer propped against a tree so Susan and I had to roll it back on it's wheels and pull it over to the Cherokee.

The motorcycle strapped and tied down with a bicycle on each side.  If it makes to the pavement it should make it anywhere.  Our road is in bad shape this year.  We're hoping spring break-up is over when we get back.  We had a wet fall and lots of very cold weather over the winter.  That usually means frozen ground and spring flooding plus with the ground saturated if the wind blows much when it thaws we'll have trees falling down everywhere.  We already have some serious frost heaves on the paved road leading into Fortine and Highway 93 is in bad shape with lots of potholes in the pavement.

Susan making bisquits, sausage and sausage gravy for breakfast.

That's just me doing some laundry.  I was working outside so whenever I came in I'd swish the clothes a bit.  When I finished washing I dumped the water and put clean water in for the rinse.  I wrung them by hand and hung them inside to dry overnight.

Me writing.  I try to get a couple hours of writing in every day.  On days I can't work outside I write more.  On nice days I write less and work outside more. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

20 January, 2011 Butchering and canning time.

Its's been a busy week.  We began the week with lots of snow piled up and ended it with rain and warm weather.  It looks more like late March than late January outside.  Lots of photos in this entry.

The snow slid off naturally on most of the outbuildings but I needed to scoop it off the two canoes, aluminum boat, trampoline and chicken house.

Tristan got the job of shoveling off the workshop/generator shed and the shack. 

Susan cooked up a big pan of rice.  We had Spanish Rice for dinner then she dried the leftover rice for later use.  When you dry cooked rice you have minute rice.  We keep some on hand for times when we're travelling or just in a hurry.

Aahhhh!  Dinner cooking on the wood stove.

We ran out of corn meal so I ground some more with our electric grinder one evening when the generator was running.  We buy organic corn then grind it ourselves to the consistency we desire.

Me working.  I sold two more articles this week.

We've gotten more done on the Uhaul now that the weather has warmed up.  I repoaced the door knob which was quite a job since I had to do some modifications to make it fit.  We use a home type door knob set and it wasn't designed to fit a camper door.  Susan took the screen frame out to replace the screen.

Finished!  She installed it yesterday and also put the last of the insulation in the back wall.

We had stew left over so she canned it for future use.

We had some sweet potatoes we hadn't got around to eating yet.  They were beginning to get old so Susan is peeling them to be canned.

Peeled and cubed ...

Stew on the left and sweet potatoes on the right.

Now she's getting ready to can butter.  She begins by scraping it into the jars.  We set the jars on the water kettle to provide a low, steady heat.

As the butter melts she keeps adding more until the jars are full.  The smaller jars are for summer use when we need to use it up faster.  Actually we have refrigeration now so it doesn't matter but before then it did.  We will probably take the small jars in the camper this spring.

Butter and cheese can be canned with a water bath canner (no pressure needed).  The rock is to take up space and raise the water level so we don't need as much water in the canner.  This is actually the water kettle we keep ont he stove most of the time.  It began life as a canner and we still put it to work that way at times.

Butter and cheese fresh out of the canner.  The butter separates in the canning process.

You have to shake the butter up periodically while it cools to mix it back up.  It will go back to it's semi-solid state when cool.  We open the can and use a knife to spread it when we use it.  When we use the cheese we dip the jar in hot water then the cheese comes out intact.  Then you just slice it or grate it as you would normally.  You can put it back in the jar if you don't use it all at one sitting.

Grinding venison outdoors.  The grinder has a clamp-on base and needs a stout table to hold  in place.  The picninc table is our best option so I grind the hamburger outside.  I've had this grinder for at least thirty years.  We have three meat grinders.  One is a small clamp on type and the other is for indoor use with a suction base.  We bought it at a yard sale.  It wouldn't hold up to heavy duty grinding but it has some good grating attachments for cheese, etc.

Susan cans hamburger patties in wide-mouth jars.  They have to fit inside so she uses a can lid to sixe them.  She's also canned sausage tties the same way.  We try to remove ALL the fat from our venison prior to grinding so there is very little shrinkage.

Once the patties are made she browns them in the skillet.  Note the canner in use to the left.

These small (pint) wide mouth jars are perfect for the times it's just Susan and I eating.  The small jars are used mostly when we go camping.  The meat will be eaten right away so we don't have to worry about refrigerating leftovers.

First batch of jars washed and waiting for their turn in the canner.   We had to get more out of storage before we were done for the week.

Some of the food canned this week.

The last two canner loads.  Yeah!  We have four pressure canners.  When we need to heat more than two at once we get out our "outfitter's" propane stove.  It's can do two more canners.

Home canned venison burgers and cheese with home made buns.  The burgers are moist and taste great.  You just need to heat them up.  We also have home grown onions to go with them and a we have few tomatoes left that are ripe now (we picked them green when we closed down the garden for the year).

We set some buckets under the eves to catch water while it was raining.  We left a couple out overnight and they froze.  Thankfully they didnt freeze solid and break the buckets.