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Living the Simple Life IV

Ellen Telander
Winsted Organics Farm

I LOVE FALL! It’s the time to harvest hay, can your precious goods from your hard working garden and getting the goat meat in the freezer.

Canning is a process, if done correctly, to preserve food for a year or more on a shelf without the need of refrigeration. It is really a lost art, to capture summer in a jar. You do need to be careful not to burn yourself using boiling water and the hot, sterile jars. Buy used mason jars by the dozen at thrift stores for only a buck or two. Save money and never buy new.

However, never reuse lids for canning. Spend money on new caps at the grocery store. You can reuse the rings… but not the lids. Sterilize the jars in boiling water and heat up the rings in the same bath. It is not necessary to boil the lids, but you do want them to be hot before you seal them on the jars for processing. Follow the canning instructions in the “Preserving, Canning and Freezing” article in this Food section.

I have been experimenting with different, old recipes from the 1960s to find the perfect pickle recipe. I have found it! It is so amazing that I can’t figure out why we ever bother buying pickles at the store. Never again! The homely cucumber-made-pickle was actually a much sought after and honored condiment at the farmer’s table in the winter months when fresh veggies were not available. Pickles were more like a real side dish to accompany ham or chicken.

I found pickle recipes that make your mouth water, lips smack and tummy grumble for more. Here’s my favorite picking recipe:

Crisp-as-Ice Pickle Slices

Use a wavy cutter to add a nice texture to the pickle slices.

Serve with sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, pot roasts, roast beef or meat loaves.

  • ½ cup salt (canning salt)
  • 4 quarts sliced cucumbers (the picking kind at ½ inch thick slices)
  • 8 onions, sliced thin
  • 2 green peppers, seeded and cut in strips
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • 3½ tsp. mustard seeds (yellow or black)
  • 4½ cup vinegar

Directions: Sprinkle salt over the sliced veggies, mix, empty tray of ice cubes in the center of veggies. Let stand 3 hours.

Combine sugar, spices and vinegar and heat till slow boil.

Drain veggies thoroughly. Pour hot syrup over them: heat over low temp to scalding. DO NOT allow mixture to boil and burn. Stir often to prevent scotching.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars; seal at once. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Makes 5½ pints.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

I purchased a flour maker/wheat grinder a few years ago and found this recipe to be the best to use of 100% whole wheat berries to make my own bread on the farm. My neighbor grows the organic wheat, but you can also buy the wheat berries at any health food store in bulk. It averages about 25 cents a loaf to make this recipe compared to the $4-6 price range for a loaf of quality, whole wheat store bought bread!

  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ tablespoons brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1½ tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1¼ cups warm water (110° F/45° C)

Add the water and ½ the flour together with the yeast and sugar or honey and let it “sponge” for about 30 minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients and knead for about 15 minutes by hand or by machine (if you are lucky to own one). After kneading the dough let the dough rise for about two hours or until it is twice the size. Then place in well greased pans using olive oil and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or till nice and brown and sounds hollow when you tap it.

The Simple Life IV

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