Thursday, September 25, 2014

Canning and Planting Garlic

Last week Maid Elizabeth brought home a grocery bag full of garlic that was a gift from a local gentleman.  Since we don't have a root cellar, I immediately made plans to can this wonderful bounty, foreseeing tidy rows of minced garlic in my future. 

This morning, as I began separating the cloves, preparing for a full day of canning, an idea happened upon me - why didn't I plant some of these cloves so that we could enjoy our own homegrown garlic?

Seizing upon the idea, Miss Serenity, Maid Elizabeth and I quickly went to work.  First, we had to prepare garden beds.  Our soil is so lacking that we have to heavily amend it, so we trudged out to the compost pile and shoveled rich, black soil into the  wheel barrow.  After we dug compost into two separate raised beds, we were ready to plant. 

Garlic needs to be planted about two inches deep and four inches between cloves.  With three of us working, we had the raised beds planted in short order.  After a quick watering, we covered the newly planted garlic with mulch to keep it protected over the winter.

After planting the beds we were off to the kitchen for the real work.  We peeled garlic cloves one by one and soon had a bowl full of shiny, white garlic.  After washing the cloves, we pulsed them quickly in the blender (a few at a time) and put them in a pot.  After all the garlic was minced, we poured boiling water over the garlic (to quickly parboil it) and let it sit while we prepared the jars for canning.  We filled 1/2 pint jars with garlic and filled with the garlic liquid (that was poured over the garlic) to fill the jar to within 1/2 inch from the top (1/2 inch head space).  We put 1/2 tsp. of pickling salt in each jar (pickling salt doesn't have iodine in it, so it doesn't discolor the garlic while canning).  Putting Tatler lids on the jars, we put them into the pressure canner.

Freshly peeled garlic cloves

Mincing in the blender

We minced just a few at a time

A pot full of minced garlic

Covered in boiling water

We canned the garlic at 10 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes (same time and pressure as onions).  After processing, we pulled 6 beautiful 1/2 pint jars of minced garlic out of the canner. 

Jars of canned, minced garlic
Oh, how we'll enjoy this garlic throughout the year until we harvest our own flavorful garlic crop!

Until next time,


Friday, September 19, 2014

Best Cough Syrup Ever!


Recently Princess Dragon Snack developed a lingering cough that had the nasty habit of disappearing during the day only to appear with a vengeance the minute everybody was safely tucked into bed.  Water didn't help, cough drops didn't help and even lemon-honey tea didn't stem the tide of the constant coughing. 

Finally, in a late-night desperate attempt to get some sleep, I mixed up a cough syrup concoction that I found on the internet (tweaked to include ingredients I had in my kitchen).  Within minutes, I had a warm, spicy-rich syrup ready for Dragon Snack's consumption.  I gave her a spoonful, which she loved, and waited hopefully.  Dragon Snack coughed and coughed a few more times, but within 5 minutes her coughing ceased.  I sent her to bed expecting to be awoken by coughing in short order only to wake in the morning with the realization that Dragon Snack had not coughed.  Once.  All night! 

Dragon Snack didn't cough all the next day.  Before she went to bed, I gave Snack another spoonful of cough syrup, tucked her in and didn't hear a cough all night.  This went on for a few days and then one night I forgot to give her the syrup.  Just about the time we all drifted off, the coughing started.  I called Dragon Snack down, gave her a spoonful of syrup and sent her to bed.  Another 5 minutes of coughing ensued and then blissful sleep.

Slowly warming the honey, oil, vinegar and water
Since then, Master Calvin has developed a similar cough and I have been giving him a nightly dose of the syrup.  He too coughs for a few minutes and then settles into a comfortable sleep.

We are sold.  As far as we can tell, one spoonful of syrup lasts for 24 hours!  We did, on one occasion, give Snack two spoonful's of syrup in a 24 hour period, but that was during a particularly bad spell. 

With the spices added
The difficult part seems to be keeping the kids out of the syrup until they need it.  They love the way it tastes!

As winter closes in and the cold season descends upon us, I will be sure to have a supply of the Best Cough Syrup Ever in my fridge!

Best Cough Syrup Ever
2 T Olive Oil (or Coconut Oil)
4 T raw Apple Cider Vinegar
4 T raw Honey
2 T Water
1/2 tsp. ground Ginger (fresh would be better)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Lemon Juice (or 3 drops of lemon essential oil)

Combine the oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and water together in a small saucepan and heat very gently and slowly until just melted and combined.  Shut off heat.

Add in the ginger, cinnamon and lemon and stir to combine.

Dosage:  Adults 1 T as needed.  Children 1 tsp. as needed.

This syrup can be stored at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for a few weeks.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Are we Honest Men?

For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under tyrannical dominion.  It is in truth, not for glory, nor riches, nor honors that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
Declaration of Arbroath - 1320