Using A Pressure Cooker

pressure cooker 2    cooker

So you got a pressure cooker and you never use it because you just don’t know how?  This is a very common thing.  Pressure cookers seem to have an unknown quality about them that make people scared to use them.  However, pressure cookers are a great help in the kitchen and a lot of times you can make dinner in half the time.   Here are some brief instructions on how to cook with a pressure cooker.  Give it a try and see what a difference a pressure cooker can make!

To start off, put the contents of what you are cooking in the pressure cooker (such as chicken and veggies).

Add water, stock, or sauce.  Make sure you never cook dry.

Turn the burner on high; put the pressure cooker, with the ingredients in it,on the burner, making sure the burner isn’t too big for the pressure cooker.

You can either start the pressure cooking process, or let the contents boil ahead of time. If you let it boil without the lid it is brought up to pressure much faster.

Making sure that the pressure valve is on 0, place the lid on the pot and lock it into place.

After the lid id locked make sure you move the pressure valve to the desired pressure either 1, or 2. Foods that require pressure 1 include vegetables, and fish. Foods that require pressure 2 include all other meets, potatoes and rice. If you have a combination of pressure 1 and pressure 2 foods to be cooked at the same time for example chicken and vegetables cook the chicken most of the way bring it back down to pressure add the vegetables bring it back up to pressure on pressure 1 for the vegetables and finish cooking.

After you have locked the lid into place and have turned the pressure valve to the desired pressure it will take a few minutes until it come to pressure. You know when it is under pressure when the Red pressure indicator is visible. After you see the indicator pop up it will take about a minute or so and steam will start to escape from the valve. At this point turn the burner down to low. The pressure cooker is now under pressure and you can start your timer for how long you want your food to be cooking.

When your food is done cooking you must bring it down from pressure before you remove the lid. Don’t try and force the lid off or you will break it. There are three different ways that you can bring it down from pressure. 1. Take it off the burner and just let it come down naturally. By doing it this way you preserve more nutrients than any other way, but it does take a long time to bring it down. 2. You can put the pressure regulator valve back down to 0, this way is fast but not a good idea if you are cooking soups. The liquid in the soup will end up all over your kitchen. 3. You can run the lid under cold water, this is also a quick way and you will not get the contents in the pressure cooker all over your kitchen. If the food is not done you can put it back on the stove, and put it back under pressure for a few more minutes.

Things to remember

  • The pressure regulator valve must be turned to 0 when locking the lid in place.
  • After you see the pressure indicator and steam starts to escape, you must turn the burner down to low.
  • You must always remember to set the pressure at either 1 or 2, do not leave it at 0 your food will burn
  • Most recipes have you saute vegetables then add the rest of the ingredients and bring the pressure cooker up to pressure. This can cause burning I would suggest sauteing vegetables in a separate pan and adding them later.

Honey

All about honey
Honey is one of the few foods low in pesticide contamination. Contaminated bees die before they reach the hive. Most diseases of bees are not transferred to humans. Honey is also free of preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, and will not mold. Bacteria and disease micro-organisms when introduced into honey died within a few hours or days. Babies younger than a year should not be given honey

Honey will not freeze, so store it almost anywhere, in a solid container with a tight lid. Be sure to keep honey covered. When left uncovered, honey picks up other odors and loses its own aroma. Honey in storage usually gets darker in color and stronger in flavor, but remains useful as ever. Remember honey that has been diluted with water will ferment.

Always mix honey thoroughly with other recipe ingredients before turning mixture into baking pans. This will prevent a too-moist, over-sweetened layer from collecting on the top. Make it a rule to combine honey with the liquid ingredients to assure complete distribution in the mixture.

When using honey in substitution for sugar in standard recipes, a general rule is to reduce the amount of another liquid ingredient by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used. Honey can generally replace 1/2 of the required sugar without changing the proportions of the other ingredients in the recipe. Honey absorbs and retains moisture, thus retarding the drying out of baked goods. This is especially important when you want to bake in advance, or save baked goods for any length of time.

Pure honey usually becomes granulated as it ages, or if stored at cold temperatures. Granulation is a natural aging process and does not affect the honey except for color and flavor. Just put honey in a pan of warm water. Make sure the jar of honey is up off direct heat by putting it on a rack or jar lids in the pan of water. Be careful not to overheat granulated honey, too much heat causes the honey to change color and flavor.

Honey Cookies

Serves 36
Meal type Dessert
Here is a great recipe to start using honey! Honey Cookies!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 375F.
Step 2
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, honey and egg until smooth.
Step 3
Stir in the flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
Step 4
Place teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and cook until they are light brown around the edges--about 7-9 minutes.

What Are You Preparing For?

prepare

Even though the reason so many more of us are paying attention to building emergency kits and a year’s supply, etc. is unfortunate, the fact that we are doing something is encouraging. But what are you preparing for? Are you expecting a flood, house fire, earthquake, family accident or illness, loss of income? Will the cause of the emergency allow you to stay in your home or will you have to vacate for safety reasons? Will you be away for only a few hours or lose your house for days or months? Each of the aforementioned possibilities carries with it a potentially different requirement for preparation.

If you are required to vacate your home for any reason, can you pick up everything you need in less than five minutes and be driving or walking away? Will you have enough to survive on until real help becomes available? And what is meant by real help? Are you relying on the Red Cross or other organization to come to the rescue? That may happen; then again, it may not.

If your house is destroyed by fire (we certainly hope not), but what if it is? Often, neighbors will immediately take you in and provide food and shelter on a temporary basis. That would be a wonderful thing and we hope that would be the unquestioning response from any of us. But what if the emergency was more wide spread such as an earthquake and your neighbors lose their homes too? Where will you go then? How long might it take for outside help to arrive? What if roads are blocked, etc.? The questions can go on and on.

Some may consider these kinds of questions as trying to provoke a panic approach. Quite the opposite is true. When we sit down as a family and discuss the possibilities in a calm and organized manner, the most likely problems become better defined and the solutions become clear. What we are trying to say here is that there seldom is a single right answer for every person and family. The same basic problem may create a different problem for your family than it does for another.

For the sake of comparison let’s discuss a loss of income. We’ll say that your family has had a sufficient income to allow saving a little out of each pay check. Over the course of several years you now have enough that you could live off of your savings for maybe six months. Another family however, either didn’t make enough to have any extra or was foolish enough to spend every dollar that came home. Can you see the difference between what each family will have to do during the emergency? What does your family need to do to be prepared for the loss of income?

Now let’s consider the horrifying experience of a flood. When severe enough, buildings and their contents become inaccessible. Again, considering two families, only this time both families have been diligent in building up water storage to the best of their ability (see the Water Storage blog). One family has enough water stored for their family of six to last three months: that’s 90 gallons per person x six people = 540 gallons. They purchased five 55 gallon drums and recently added one of the 250 gallon Super Tankers to achieve this much storage. The other family, due to financial constraints has only two 55 gallon drums. They have added eight of the 15 gallon drums, one at a time, and a couple five gallon water containers over the past year. Whenever possible they also purchased one gallon containers of bottled spring water.

The flood occurred because of excessive rains which overflowed the banks of the nearby river. Basements started to fill and then the first floor eventually was covered. All residents of this neighborhood were told to evacuate and grab what they could in 20 minutes or less. Both families grabbed a few valuables besides family members and pets, but only one was able to take some water with them. Why? The point is not that large or small storage containers are bad; it is that a combination of storage methods be used to meet whatever the circumstances call for. Fifty Five gallon drums are nearly impossible to move when full. One gallon bottles, even 15 gallon drums can be set in a car very quickly if needed. So, one family was able to take at least a little water with them to get them through the first several days.

The down side to more containers rather than fewer is that when it is time to rotate the water, more containers generally require more time. The exception here is that if the containers are small enough to pick up and transport, then they can be taken to the garden and used for watering instead of just wasting the water by emptying it down the drain.

Now, take these principles and apply them to all aspects of your emergency preparedness. Don’t limit this approach to just food and water needs. Think ahead and realize what the circumstance might be for every member of your family when an emergency does occur. Start preparing for the most likely emergency, and then broaden your preparations to be ready for additional types of emergencies.

 

 

Home Canning

Home-Canning

Not long ago canning and storing food was a necessity. Today canning is about enjoying the great taste and goodness of fresh foods right form your own garden or local farmers market. With fresh fruits or vegetables it is either feast or famine. Canning allows you to take food at the peak of season and save it for a later date. There is nothing more satisfying than opening up a jar of peaches, salsa, pickles, etc. in the dead of winter and feeling like summer was here again.

In this article we will cover some of the basic information and skills needed to be successful at canning. For more details about water-bath canning or steam-pressure canning refer to those articles listed on this website.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE

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Water Bath Canner – Refer to Boiling –Water Method
Steam Pressure Canner – Refer to Steam Pressure Method
Jars, Lids and Bands- Mason home canning jars are the only jars that are recommended for canning. I know that it is very tempting to use mayonnaise or ”one time use jars” but avoid being caught in that trap because it only takes one time of having your bottles break in a hot pressure canner to discourage you from canning. During the summer months, canning jars are available everywhere, grocery stores, hardware stores, thrift stores, garage sales etc. The brand name of the bottles may vary, for example you might find Kerr® bottles and Ball® bottles but both of these brands will still say Mason somewhere on the bottle. Mason is what you really need to look for. These bottles have been tempered to withstand the high temperature of the pressure canner (240° F).

There are many sizes of jars available. There are ½ pint jars (good for jams and jellies), pint jars, quart jars, and half-gallon jars although these can be hard to find. Choose the size that would best fit the food you are canning. For example, it may not be economical to can pears in ½ pint jars if you have 8 members in your family. A quart jar would be best for that type of job.
Empty Mason Jars

Lids can be purchased by themselves or you can buy them in boxes with the bands. Lids can only be used once where as the bands can be used over and over again. You can purchase regular or wide mouth bands and lids. The advantage of using wide mouth jars and lids is that you can easily accommodate larger foods in the jars.

Specially designed utensils for home canning, though not essential, make the canning process easier and safer.

tools

Canning Funnel – A plastic jar funnel fits both regular and wide mouth canning jars.
Jar Lifter – Hot jars can be safely removed from the canner with these tongs.
Lid Wand – The magnetic tip on this utensil helps remove lids from hot water.

Canning Principles
It is very important to understand canning principles because working with the steam pressure canner and the water bath canner can cause problems if you are not familiar with the basic why’s and how’s. I highly recommend obtaining an up-to-date canning guide. This will provide you with the latest information available as well as the proper times for processing. I would advise very strongly to obtain the USDA Canning Guide from your Extension Office or the Ball Blue Book®.

A simple definition of canning is heating foods in a glass jar hot enough to kill bacteria, yeast, or molds. Understanding how to prevent food spoilage and deterioration is the key to canning safety and success. It is also helpful to understand how acid and temperature affect molds, yeasts, bacteria and enzymes.
Molds and yeasts are fungi. Molds grow and appear as fuzz on food. Some molds can produce mycotoxins which are harmful to eat. Yeasts cause food to ferment, making it unfit to eat. Molds and yeasts are easily destroyed at temperatures between 140° and 190°F. Boiling-water processing heats foods to 212°Fwhich is hot enough to destroy the molds and yeasts without destroying the quality of the product. Foods that are naturally high in acid or have a sufficient amount of acid added to them are processed with the boiling water bath method. Foods in this category must have a pH of 4.6 or lower.

Bacteria are not easily destroyed. Some bacteria actually thrive at temperatures between 140° to 190° F (temperatures that destroy molds and yeasts). Botulism is a food poisoning caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria is also readily destroyed by boiling, however, the toxin producing spores cannot readily be destroyed at 212°F. Furthermore, the botulism-causing bacteria, thrives on low acids in the absence of air in moist environments exactly the conditions inside a jar of canned vegetables, meats and other low-acid foods.

Classification of Foods For canning purposes food is put into two classifications. How much acid the food has in it determines which classification it would be in and determines which method of processing you would use.

High acid foods – Foods that are naturally high in acid or that have acid added to them are in this category. Generally all fruits, jams, jellies are naturally high in acid. Pickles or relishes which have a sufficient amount of acid added to them are in the high acid food category. High acid foods are processed by the water bath method.

Low acid foods – These are foods that have very little acid. Vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, and seafood. They are processed in the steam-pressure canner.

canning zombies

Preparing for Canning

Examine your jars for nicks, or cracks
Heat your jars. You can run them through a rinse cycle of the dishwasher or fill your sink with hot water, or simmer them in a pan of water. Work with one canner load of bottles at a time.
Heat lids and bands – Warm only as many as you will use at a time. Simmer for about 10 minutes so the sealing compound can soften. You can boil water in the microwave and let lids and bands sit in the water for about 10 minutes. You can simmer lids and bands in a pan of water on the stove.
Filling Jars

Hot pack – Pre cook the food in syrup, water, brine, or juice before putting it into the jars. Food is usually tighter packed when you hot pack thus using fewer jars.

Raw pack – Foods that are delicate are better raw packed. The food is placed in the jar while it is raw. Boiling water, syrup, brine, or juice is added. There is more shrinkage with raw pack causing the food to float.

Measuring Headspace
Headspace is the space between the top of the food or liquid and the inside of the lid. As a general rule leave 1-inch headspace for low-acid foods and ½ inch for high acid foods, and ¼ inch space for juices, jams, jellies.

Removing Air Bubbles
After the food has been packed into the jar, any air bubbles that are present must be removed. This is done by placing a non-metallic spatula, chopstick, or plastic knife between the food and the jar. Press the spatula against the food to remove the air bubbles.
Cleaning the rim of the jar
Wipe the rim of the jar clean with a clean paper towel or cloth.

Adjust lids and bands

Place the lids and bands that have been simmering in water on the jars and tighten the bands.
Process according to proper canning method

Cooling
When processing is complete remove the jars from the canner and place on a towel in a draft free area. Let the jars sit for 12 to 24 hours before testing them to see if they have sealed. If the product has properly sealed the lid will be concave. If the product failed to seal store it in the refrigerator and use within 24 hours. You may put on a new lid and re-process the food. The quality of the food will not be as good if you have to re-process it.

Storing
Label your jars with the name of the product as well as the date. Store in a cool, dry place and use within one year.

Homemade Spa Alternatives You can Make from Your Storage

homemade spa alternatives

You can use food items in your storage for non food purposes.

  1. Cleaning
  2. Cosmetics/ personal care
  3. Kids Fun
  • Stock your shelves with the basic ingredients and you can make just about any cleaner to clean just about anything.

Those items include:

  1. Baking Soda
  2. Vinegar
  3. Borax
  4. Washing Soda
  5. Dawn Dish Soap
  6. Peroxide
  7. Alcohol
  8. Ammonia

I encourage you look on the internet for each product by itself to find its many uses. Keep these on hand in a note book for later reference.

I have provided a hand out on 60 uses for baking soda and many uses for lemon. There is also info on the uses of peroxide and vinegar.

  • The “cost” effective alternative

Making your own items often means cutting the cost of such products, doesn’t decrease their effectiveness, and allows you to control the ingredients. The information that I have provided on laundry and dish soaps were taken from the internet. I looked at many sources, checked into their pros and cons, and researched how many people helped to solve those problems by altering the basic recipes. I have had great success with the recipes I have chosen to use but you may find there is something you would like to change about them, and that’s o.k.

I have tried to be as generous with the information as I could, but I invite you to do a little research on the subjects as well.

  • Tips
  1. Keep old laundry containers with the spouts to put your home-made soap into. Some people who are creative have even made their own cute labels. I have seen people purchase the water container you put in the fridge, and also used those glass ice tea spigot jugs as dispensers.
  2. Using the foam soap dispensers, even with your hand dishwashing detergents and all soaps exponentially adds to the life and uses of your soap.
  3. Cut your dryer sheets in half. It is still effective and you just halved your cost.
  4. If you must use liquid fabric softener, dilute it 50/50 with vinegar.
  5. Cascade dish soap, if it is cheaper than the Oxi-clean that you buy can be replaced as the enzyme cleaner. Especially good for whitening socks.
  6. You are going to need a place to put all your homemade cleaners. I have discovered that the lids to Parmesan cheese containers fit perfectly on the regular mouth jars. Use this when you need to sprinkle something.
  7. Create 1 gallon of liquid soap with 8 oz bar soap, glycerin, and purified water.

Apple mask:

  • 1 Tbs. Applesauce
  • 1 Tbs. Wheat Germ

To Make: Purée apple in a blender or add applesauce to a small bowl. Mix in the wheat germ to form a paste.

To Use: Apply to washed, scrubbed, and steamed face. Allow mask to set for 10-15 minutes. Tones and moisturizes.

Apples contain Calcium, Iron and Vitamin A. Its properties include antibacterial, antioxidant, astringent and toning.

Summer Ready Foot Scrub: 2 Tbs. olive oil 2 Tbs. kosher salt

Directions: Mix the salt and oil together – this recipe makes enough for two feet, increase the recipe if you’re hosting a spa party! Wash feet gently in water and soak for about 5 minutes. Apply the salt mixture in a circular motion and leave on for 5 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and you’ll have super clean and smooth feet!

Powdered Milk–Soak:

I found this great idea for another use for powdered milk in an online cookbook. There was no author listed, so I don’t know who to credit. It’s a clever use for powdered milk items should you have a surplus near expiration.

Skin Soothing Milk Bath-

1/2 c. powdered milk

1/2 c. powdered buttermilk

1/2 c. cornstarch

2 T. honey powder (or honey)

1/2 c. rolled oats, ground

2 T. Sweet Almond oil (extra virgin olive oil can be substituted)

1 t. of fragrance oil or essential oil of choice (may be omitted for a clean, milky scented bath, or you may add vanilla extract or other flavored extract instead for scent.)

Blend all the ingredients until well mixed. Store in an air-tight container and use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per bath. Makes the skin silky smooth. You can also add a small amount of essential oil for fragrance.

Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey Facial Scrub: from Ladies Blend 2 tbsp ground oatmeal (use your coffee grinder) 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp honey 2 tsp (or more) milk squirt lemon juice

Directions: Blend all the ingredients together in mixing bowl. Apply to clean face and neck and leave on 5-10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat your face dry.

Variation: Double the ingredients to make a body scrub.

Gentle Facial Exfoliant – Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles

1/2 cup ground oatmeal 1/4 cup powdered milk whole or nonfat 1 teaspoon cornmeal Purified water

In a small bowl, thoroughly blend all dry ingredients using a spoon or small whisk, or shake them in a sealed plastic bag. Pour the mixture into a storage container. No refrigeration is required for dry ingredients, but for maximum freshness and potency, please use within 6 months.

TO MIX THE SCRUB FOR USE: In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon of scrub mixture with enough water to form a spreadable paste. Allow the mixture to thicken for 1 minute.

APPLICATION TIPS: Using your fingers, massage scrub onto the face and throat. Rinse.

Beeswax Lip Balm Recipe:

1⁄2 ounce beeswax 1 teaspoon honey 4 ounces olive oil Mint extract to taste (about 20 drops), optional

Weigh beeswax and measure remaining ingredients.

In small double boiler, add beeswax and melt. Once melted, add honey and oil, and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add extract and stir well. (Be aware that the honey will not fully mix with the oil because of the water content, but it’s a good healing agent for the skin.)

Pour heated mixture into a small glass container or beaker, then distribute into lip balm tins or tubes.

NOTE: Adding more or less beeswax will make the lip balm harder or softer depending on your preference; the harder it is, the longer it stays on your lips. You also can add vitamin E oil or grapefruit seed oil as a preservative. You also can mix oils, such as almond oil, sunflower seed oil and others, depending on the availability and the product you wish to make. Other oils and butters alter the texture and healing properties of the final product.

Homemade Ice Pack:

Start with a Zip-lock bag (one that will seal very well) and fill it with one part rubbing alcohol and two parts water. The alcohol keeps it from freezing completely, so you end up with a bag of slushy liquid, which is ideal for placing around your joints.

This might get a little cold, so put a towel between the bag and your bare skin when you use it! (That’s one thing that’s awesome about this pack. It stays colder much longer than a typical store-bought ice pack.)

Bonus tip: Put some blue food coloring in there and it will look just like the ice packs you buy at the sporting goods store!

Bonus tip #2: To make this one even easier, skip the water/alcohol mixture. Instead, fill the bag with dish washing soap (such as Dawn or Palmolive) and freeze. The soap won’t freeze, either, so it will conform to your body nicely!

40 Handy Lemon Tips:

  1. Hair – For extra shine, dilute 1 tsp lemon juice in a cup of water, and use to rinse your hair after shampooing.
  2. Hands – Remove smells and stains with a rub of lemon juice.
  3. Nails – Whiten fingernails with a rub from a wedge of lemon.
  4. Rough elbows – Hold your elbow in half a lemon for a few mins, then rinse.
  5. Spots – Wet a paper towel with lemon juice and apply to help treat spots and blackheads.
  6. Hand wash – Make your own liquid handwash
  7. Exfoliating body scrub – Mix chopped lemon peel, half a cup of sugar and olive oil into a paste. Use to exfoliate rough areas of skin such as feet.
  8. Minor wounds – Dab with lemon juice to disinfect scratches and scrapes. It might sting a bit!
  9. Travel sickness – Suck on a slice of lemon to help you stop feeling nauseous.
  10. Laxative – Mix 2 tbsp of lemon juice and warm water, then drink.
  11. Sore throat & coughs – Mix 2 tsp of lemon juice with half a tsp of honey and drink. Or mix juice and honey with hot tea.
  12. Wasp stings – apply lemon juice for relief.
  13. Dandruff – Mix 2 tbsp lemon juice in 2 cups of water and rinse after shampooing

Cleaning

  1. Stained plastic – Rub plastic containers or tupperware with lemon juice to help shift food stains.
  2. Stains – Remove stains from wooden chopping boards and cloths. Mix lemon juice with water, apply and rinse.
  3. Mirrors – Mix 2 tbsp lemon juice with half a gallon of water for an effective mirror cleaner.
  4. Grease – Straight lemon juice acts as a general degreaser.
  5. Stains – Clean copper and brass with salt and lemon juice (three parts salt to one juice).
  6. Microwave – Add lemon slice to small bowl of water, then microwave for 5 minutes and wipe clean.
  7. Grater – Remove dried food from your grater by rubbing with the pulp side of a cut lemon.
  8. Polish – Make furniture polish from 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts cooking oil.
  9. All-purpose cleaner – mix equal parts lemon juice and water in a spray bottle.
  10. Taps – Cut lemon into slices and leave on limescale stains around taps for 10 mins (or as long as overnight). Scrub with old toothbrush and rinse.
  11. Toilet – Use lemon juice to help clean dirty toilets.
  12. Windows – Make your own eco-friendly window cleaner.
  13. Dishes – Instead of washing up liquid, try soaking a cloth / sponge in lemon juice, give them a scrub, then rinse in warm water.

Laundry

  1. Mildew – Rub stained clothes with a lemon and leave in the sun for 12 hours or more.
  2. Rust – Remove stains from clothes by applying lemon juice and dry under a hot sun.
  3. Whiter whites – Mix lemon juice with water to whiten whites.
  4. Fresh smell – A tsp of lemon juice added to your wash will make clothes smell fresher.

Aromas

  1. Firelighters – After cooking, use residual oven heat to bake discarded orange or lemon peels until they darken. These create natural, fragrant firelighters.
  2. Potpourri – Dry peels to add to your potpourri.
  3. Fridge – Cut lemon in half and let it absorb fridge smells.