Monday, November 8, 2010

Putting Up, Putting Away

It's really time to get things ready for winter, isn't it? After driving through snow showers, rain, sleet, fog, and sunshine on the way to Morgantown on Saturday, it was obvious that winter is close by, waiting to pounce. So Sunday morning we got to work outside, putting away chairs, tables, garden decorations and cleaning out flower beds. Then it was time for me to get in the kitchen and finish up a few canning chores.

While we were in Morgantown Tommy gave us some steaks that he did not want. What to do with them? Cook them, of course, but maybe there was something else...

The steaks became the basis for eight pints of beef stew ready to be put in the cellar. I love it when things work like this--all the right ingredients on hand so it was just chopping and heating and adding the spices, et voila!

This was my first attempt to can with the pressure canner on the Tappan and it was wonderful. I can adjust the burners easily to control the pressure, and best of all? I can have two or three BIG pots on the stove at one time with no problem. Seriously, if you are looking for a new stove, look at one of the vintage stove to see what quality they offer. I love my stove. I love cooking on it, I love cleaning it (because it's easy), I love the look of it, I love baking in it, I love its storage capacity, and I love-love-love those red glass lights behind the burner control knobs.

The cider glows in the late afternoon sun that filtered into the kitchen as I finished up the day's work. This is the last 3 gallons to go from the freezer to the cellar. I brought it to a boil, jarred it, then processed for 20 minutes in a water bath canner. It loses some of its cider-y sparkle when it is processed like this, but it's easier to use and most important freed up space in the freezer for the turkeys and the anticipated venison that will soon (I hope) be coming. I found some old jars that are "short" gallons, with wire bail handles in the cellar that are perfect for the cider.

I brought in the geraniums and a pot of begonias to keep them from freezing--there was ice on the porch in the morning. I will pull all but one of the geraniums from their pots and hang them upside down in the cellar, to be replanted in the greenhouse in March. I had very good luck with them last year and will hope for a repeat.

The mini-pumpkins from the garden add a fall feeling to the dining table.

It was a good day altogether, and the cellar is almost full to bursting now. A few more jars of stew, some spiced pears and then some winter jam-making will finish filling the shelves. With the free gas, I might be canning some dried beans too--the cost would certainly be less than buying canned.

Here is the recipe for beef stew that I use. It is modified from one in the Better Homes and Gardens Canning Cookbook. I've used this cookbook so much that my copy is stained and ragged, but it remains my favorite canning bible.

2 1/2 lbs or so of beef , cut in 1" pieces (I used steak)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups water

about 5 cups of baby carrots
about 5 cups cubed unpeeled potatoes
about 1 cup chopped onion
about 1 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 tbsp salt (I use a teaspoon instead)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
dash or two of pepper

I use more of less of the different vegetables, depending on what I have on hand.

Saute the meat in the olive oil until browned, then add the water and the next nine ingredients. Cook, covered for 15 minutes or until it boils. Mix 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 cup cold water and add to the boiling stew mixture. Cook and stir until bubbling. Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving one inch headroom in the jars. Put on the sterilized lids and rings, and process in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts. This recipe makes about 7 pints.
 I sometimes wait and add the flour/water mixture when I heat the stew for dinner. I think this way I can control the thickness of the sauce better, but that's just me.

This is a fine winter meal with fresh cornbread or biscuits, apple butter and some cold apple cider. Perfect.


Farmchick said...

It looks like you are well on your way to being prepared for the winter months. We are also putting things away and my husband has made sure we have a well stocked woodpile.

Mama-Bug said...

That cider looks so good. I'm getting ready to try canning some dried beans too. Never done it, but it shouldn't be too hard. The prices of canned goods in the store are getting pricey.

Angela said...

I'm going to have to get a pressure canner. I'd love to have some meals already ready so I won't have to slave over the stove when I cook. You are so inspirational with all that you do to get ready for the months ahead.

Janet, said...

Sounds as if you have finished everything and are ready to put your feet up and relax a little. You are very prepared for the winter months ahead. Beef stew and cornbread sounds pretty good to me, too.

Brighid said...

You are one fantastic lady. Thanks for the recipe, sounds like a winner.
I hadn't heard about the hanging geranium thing before. But then it doesn't get that cold here.

Granny Sue said...

Mama-bug, it's easy to can dried beans, it just takes a lot of time. I used to do it when I was using my wood cookstove because the stove was going anyway. It's been a while since I did that, but I want to get back to it. I've considered buying beans in bulk online, if there is a good place to buy that would be a savings over the grocery store prices.

Tipper said...

I feel old man winter coming too : ) Great that you got caught up on so many things around your place-now I need to do the same!

Granny Sue said...

There's still *plenty* to do, Tipper. I don't think we ever get it all done. I feel a little more comfortable, though. Still things to be put away, and then...start getting out Christmas stuff. It never ends, does it?

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