Tuna harvest has begun

Tuna is the name for the fruit of the pickly pear cactus!!

Prickly pear (Opuntia) grows almost all over the United States, even in the snow belts.  We had a plant where we lived in New Jersey.  As the climate warms, fruit harvests will also move north.  Wikepedia has lots of information, including the nutritional value of the fruit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia

IMG_1044 (750x1153)knit this little sling out of cotton twine for carrying the glass jar.  Used to use a plastic bag, but that was so wasteful.  A wide mouth jar would be better, but this narrow mouth 1.5 liter jar was what I had. Tongs are used to harvest as well as hold while burning off the spines.  Yes, this fruit has spines, it IS prickly pear!!

IMG_1045 (697x1089)Not a big harvest, but there is more fruit ripening.  We lost a lot of our plants during the drought, but a couple of years of rain is bringing some of them back.  Those that are producing, are producing well.  Still won’t be a BIG harvest, but better than the NO harvest of the past 5 or so years!!

IMG_1046 (1068x799)spines are small, but nasty.  You often don’t even see them, until you see them sparkle as they burn away.  But try to pick this fruit with your bare hands and you will find out how nasty they can be!  There are lots of other ways of dealing with the spines.  When I read about how the native peoples dealt with it, it was like DUH!  how easy!  had tried all the other ways, and every one of them left nasty little spines in the fruit, in the juice, in my fingers, on my cutting board, clothes, etc.  The flames handle them and its done!

IMG_1047 (1280x960)The roasting also helps bring out the juice.  Prickly pear is a pretty juice.  Since I don’t like to add sugar and pectins, usually mix with apple to make fruit leathers or an apple/tuna butter spread.  It will depend on just how much juice I get this year.

Posted in canning, fruit, homesteading, organic, prepping, preserving, recipes, self-reliance, Uncategorized, wild harvest | Leave a comment

crazy times

Am I the only one bothered by those who want to see no limitations to the second amendment while they are calling out for limitations to the first?

And what has happened to the country I grew up in, where for over 200 years we said “I don’t like what you are saying, but will defend to the death your right to say it”?

The rate at which we are seeking to limit our rights and the rights of others, is matched only by the volume and violence that is being used to demand that limitation of rights  – while quoting their constitutional right to carry on so.

The ongoing demand for government to do something: be it fix the environment, change the climate, protect, feed, and care for us, is all step by step a demand for government control.  and government control always equals less individual rights.

And what is wrong with We The People stepping up and taking responsibility of our actions?  Every time we buy a plastic water bottle and throw it “away”, along with the plastic wrap, plastic packaging, boxed mix, premade food selection, restaurant meal, gas mileage to get each of these things, WE are contributing to environment destruction and climate change.\

Our society, both social and economic, is seeing some of the biggest, fastest, changes in history.  What was, that many of us grew up with, is long gone.  We have to think on the best way to cope, not wait for others to tell us what to do.  We have to be aware, pay attention, and look around at the reality of life, not get caught up in TV reality or how the Kardashians live.  Government has no answers, if they did, we wouldn’t be in this mess.  They can only come up with one size fits all answers, and we are not all one size.  If you leave it to government and their solution doesn’t work for you, you are just SOL!  and trying to make it work will put you in violation of some law or another.

Environmental degradation is making “growing organic” almost impossible because crap is literally falling out of the sky. because someone else is controlling what seeds you can buy, what fertilizers, what choices you will have.

Growing and preserving your own is the only way to know what you are eating.  Of course, that is nearly impossible, but buy the most basic forms of food and build up from there yourself.  THAT means changing lifestyles (which most readers of this blog have already done), and that might mean giving up some social function;  being seen at the right place type stuff.

The choices are, we take responsibility and create a reality we want OR we let the government do it for us and take our lumps when we find ourselves limited, restricted, reduced, and barcoded.

Yes, I’m pissed off, and scared.  This is not the world I imagined when I looked to the future just out of school 50 years ago!

Posted in gardening, homesteading, organic, prepping, preserving, self-reliance, uncatagorized, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Canning and Sous Vide

earlier this year was introduced to Sous Vide cooking, which, now that I’ve gone through the learning curve, is a very satisfactory way of cooking.

Recently, used the Sous Vide to cook some sausages in preparation for canning.  Having read a lot of different blogs and techniques, decided on pre cooking the sausage – but in the sous vide, then canning.  Came out just fine

Have not been pleased with raw back canning of chicken and beef, so have just done a batch of beef in the sous vide to then be packed for canning.

Next experiment will likely be with bacon.


Posted in canning, homesteading, organic, prepping, preserving, recipes, self-reliance, sous vide, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

catching up

In the week that the hubs and nephew were on the road, managed to get a lot of stuff canned and put away; there was pea soup and a regular bean soup – all of which were double stacked in the Presto.

A neighbor, who knows my garden is struggling, dropped off 3 eggplant about 5 zucchini and some crooknecks, some peppers, a pattipan.  WAY too much for me to eat by my lonesome so did a big pot of Ratatoulli, double stacked those pint jars again!!

Monsoon season has finally arrived, and with the threat of a La Nina forming to balance out the 2 year El Nino, any rain is good rain.  getting some accumulation in the rain barrels again.  Went out today to charge up the Olla’s, as they continue to disperse water no matter how heavy the rains.  Was surprised to see some spaghetti squash forming.  Eggplant are struggling against aphids as are the peppers.

One of the outdoor potatoes is coming back now that I’ve got it surrounded, the raspberry got eaten again, have finally gotten the grape protected enough that it is growing.  Zucchini still standing still and I’ve decided not to try to plant more.

blueberry plants are dying off.  Oh well.

moved some still struggling chard, again.

and after about 10 years found I had a Nectarine!!!!

Did put two more plantings of beans in though.

In the greenhouse are still a couple of potato plants and the two different sweet potatoes are finally sprouting as are the turmeric and ginger.  Next round should be photos.

Posted in canning, chard, container gardening, gardening, grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, peppers, potatoes, prepping, preserving, self-reliance, squash, Uncategorized, water | Leave a comment

Ball canning jars

The latest jars I’ve bought now have notices in them that the sealing lids have been improved for a guaranteed 18 month seal!!

How many of us have jars in the pantry that are 4 or more years old and still good?  can I see the hands please?

Posted in canning, homesteading, prepping, preserving, recipes, self-reliance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

more BIG canner

Husband and his grand nephew taking a road trip for the next week, and while they’re motelling it through most of the trip, there will be a few days of camping with the guys at a car event.  Nephew asked for a quart of my chicken and rice soup to take for the camping, so packing up a quart each of soup and chili.  Had to make the soup through so went for a BIG batch . . last night husband had a bowl of the chicken soup with some left over wild rice (his favorite).  Canned two quarts of the soup with regular brown rice – one quart for here, the other for the road.  not to have the canner empty, also did 3 quarts of water . . an excellent way to fill the canner as well as making sure there is always some water around.

Today canned 7 pints of the soup, 4 with rice, and then added some tomatoes and more veg to what was left and canned up 4 more with rice and 4 without.  So 15 pints of soup in the BIG presto canner.

While the guys are away, will do some pea soup and some pasta fagolia soup – pasta on the side (gluten free pastas do not do well sitting in liquid for a long time, they dissolve!)

Some of this soup is going into longer term storage, some into the pantry.

Posted in canning, gluten free, homesteading, prepping, preserving, recipes, self-reliance, tomatoes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

saving seeds

grow bush beans rather than pole beans.  And while I’ve never thought about, am thinking that bush beans are all a hybrid not an heirloom.  and the reason for this thinking?

Am a seed saver.  over the years have been saving the seeds from my favorite bush bean plants, choosing the ones that grow straight and are tasty.  Have one I prefer over the other.  No longer know what the names of the varieties are; just that the one I favor has  a purple flower and the seed is a darker color than the ones from the plant with the white flower.

This year, decided to squeeze in some early beans in some little spaces in the garden and used the seeds from the beans with the white flowers. And they have all grown into long climbing vines, not even producing flowers after a period of months!

As they are not growing true to the original plants, have to presume they were a hybrid.  and with that thought in mind, am thinking back as to whether or not the seed packet said either.

Gotta pay more attention if I’m going to save seeds!

Posted in container gardening, gardening, grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, prepping, preserving, self-reliance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment