Good Food Fast or Pressure Canning

While on vacation last August, I finally ordered what I had been saving for and found the courage to spend my hard eared money on – An All American Pressure Canner.  When I decide to do something, I rarely go small.  And so it was with my canner.  It holds 14 litre jars at a time and it’s BIG! – I call it my space ship canner.  

Of all the baking, cooking, and creating I do, nothing brings me as much joy and satisfaction as using this canner.  I can’t help but smile when prepping and loading the canner.  Looking at the jars I have preserved on my shelf brings a smile to my face each and every time I see them.  For those of you who have discovered the joy of canning and home preserving – you understand.  And for those of you who have not yet ventured into canning, a world of wonderment is waiting!  

There is nothing that makes me feel more satisfied than the home canned food I have prepared for my family.  The satisfaction that I am not dependent on others and can be self sufficient in this small way while taking care of my family brings me great joy.  It makes me feel fulfilled as a woman.

This weekend like many weekends, I got the urge to do some canning.  I looked in my pantry to see what I had an abundance of and whether i should create something to can or can something I already have.  I decided to make chicken stew.  Stew is a staple in our house as everyone will eat it and it is a quick meal once canned or fast weeknight meals.

That reminds me – for anyone thinking that canning is simply for food preservation, think again.  I could buy food everyday and freeze food in my large upright freezer (which I do by the way), but canning is about home cooked convenience food.  Not fast food but food fast when it is needed.  For all the other working mothers out there you understand what I am taking about.  

You rush home from work and have 30 minutes to get supper on the table, kids fed, and off to whatever program/lesson/sports/church/social event that is planned that night.  You could pick up take out and you could just have everyone eat in the car but who knows what is in that “frankenfood” and meal time no matter how fast is family time.  Solution?  Home canned meals.  

For my family of 5 which includes 3 pre-teen and teen boys I can open 2 litres of canned stew, place in a pot on the stove, thicken with arrowroot, and have everyone eating in 10 minutes from the time I walked in the door.  That leaves 20 minutes to eat, ask about everyone’s day, connect together over a meal and then out the door.  Yes – home canning is a huge benefit to a busy working mother.  The cost savings is also a benefit.  I calculated how much I spent to create 9 litres of chicken stew for my pantry shelf:

Organic Chicken – $22.00

Organic russet potatoes – $4.00

Organic carrots – $2.00

Organic onions – $2.00

Organic celery – $2.00

Total $32.00 

That gives us 4.5 meals so about $7.11 per meal for a family of 5 people ($1.42 per person).  All organic and no GMO, additives, preservatives, colourants, or other frankenfood ingredients.  How much was your take out???

You have to follow safety guidelines for pressure canning to ensure your food is safe to eat so be sure to do your homework if you plan to take up pressure canning your own food.  My recipe for stew is what I use for both chicken and beef stew – I just vary the spices for both.  I will share that recipe in an upcoming blog.  I hope you join the canning adventure and feel the satisfaction and joy of providing for your family the way I do.

Chicken Stew

Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

I hit the jackpot at our local liquidation grocery store this week – organic chopped hazelnuts were only $3.99 for a kilogram!  I exited the store with 3 kgs of the nuts and a large smile on my face.  Organic food is sometimes hard to get in a small town and even more expensive than other locations.  That is why I was so happy when a discount liquidation grocery store opened here last year.  It stocks items that come from stores that are closing, items that companies have re-branded and changing packaging, or items that are close to date so regular stores unload.  It is a crap shoot what you will find there and sometimes I walk out empty handed but when it is good – it is great.  Not a lot of people in my area are searching for organics so I often luck out with deep discounts on organics that not a lot of other people are looking for.

So back at home the reality hit – I have 3 kgs of organic hazelnuts to use!!  So became the mission to create hazelnut dishes that everyone would eat.  At that moment I heard a voice from the table “Mom – we’re out of granola”.   And I instantly knew what I would make.  My boys will all eat my granola and I much rather feed them a homemade breakfast than a boxed cereal from the store – organic or not it is still better to have control over the ingredients and nutritional value.  I like to be able to control the amount of sugar and salt in our meals as well as ensure the organic food we are eating is good for us.  After all – organic junk is still junk.

 

My favourite chocolate products to use when creating in the kitchen is Camino.  Their products are fair trade organic and come from a Canadian Company located in Ottawa.  Their cocoa powder is a staple in our home.  If you have camino products in your area I highly recommend them.

Chocolate Hazelnut Granola
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups whole rolled oats (not instant or quick)
  2. 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
  3. 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 2 tbsp agave syrup
  6. 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted if needed)
  7. 2 tbsp bittersweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Combine oats, hazelnuts, and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Add vanilla extract, agave syrup, and coconut oil. Mix until all is moistened. Spread on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes then stir granola. Bake 15 additional minutes. Remove and place on cooling rack. Wait 10 minutes then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Cool completely then store in airtight container.
My Organic Ever After http://myorganiceverafter.com/

Sprouted Wheat and Honey Bread

Of all the baking and creating in the kitchen that I do, nothing makes me feel more satisfied and an urban homesteader than making fresh bread. Not the bread maker bread but the knead and shape it by hand bread that has been made for centuries before me. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a bread maker and have used it for years. It makes really great bread but I don’t get the satisfaction of feeling the dough in my hands and the knowledge that I have made bread and will nourish my family at meals.

My grandmother used to make bread by hand. She was maybe 5’1″ at best but when she kneaded bread it was powerful and perfect. She taught me how to make bread as a child and I still have fond memories of standing in her farmhouse kitchen at the table making bread. She would break me off a piece of her dough for me to knead and shape into a little round “loaf” (ok it was more of a bun size) and we would bake our loaves together in her stove. The smell of fresh bread still reminds me of her.

She made white bread and tried to give me her recipe once which I wrote down but it was more of a “until it looks right” kind of guide. I make white bread sometimes but prefer to make my own whole wheat bread that is a bit healthier for my boys. This recipe is a culmination of trial and error and recipe creation which has left me with this soft, light wheat bread which is easy to make. You can either knead it by hand or use a kitchen aid mixer with dough hook attachment to knead it for you.

Sprouted Wheat and Honey Bread
Yields 2
A soft, light sprouted wheat bread with honey
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Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
3 hr
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/4 cups warm water
  2. 1/4 cup honey
  3. 1 1/2 tbsp yeast
  4. 2 tsp salt
  5. 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  6. 3 1/4 cup sprouted whole wheat flour
  7. 2 1/4 cup all purpose or bread flour
Instructions
  1. 1. Combine the water and honey in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let sit for 5-15 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy.
  2. 2. Add the salt and oil to the bowl liquid and mix lightly.
  3. 3. Add the sprouted wheat flour and stir in until just combined
  4. 4. Add the all purpose flour and either mix until a ball is formed with your hands or use the dough hook of a kitchen aid (or similar) stand mixer to combine and knead the dough.
  5. 5. Turn out dough onto a surface and knead until dough is soft and elastic.
  6. 6. Place in a greased bowl, oil top of dough lightly and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a draft free, warm area to rise. (I have a proof setting on my oven which works wonderfully for this). Let rise until double in size - about 1 hour.
  7. 7. Punch down dough and divide evenly into 2. Shape into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and place in a draft free, warm place until they have doubled in size - about an hour.
  8. 8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  9. 9. Allow bread to cool 10 minutes in the pans then remove from the pans to a cooling rack. Brush the tops lightly with butter. Allow to cool completely prior to slicing.
My Organic Ever After http://myorganiceverafter.com/