Sunday, May 10, 2015

Recipe for a Successful Mother's Day - 2015


  • yoga pants
  • no alarm clocks
  • brow beating
  • baby giggles
  • handmade gifts
  • sugar
  • junk food
  1. Sleep until 10:00 am (feeding a baby at 6:00 and 8:00) by brow beating your husband to take care of the kids.
  2. Early morning baby cuddles in bed.
  3. Shaken from bed with musical instruments and homemade cards/gifts from the kids.
  4. Daddy-made crepes for brunch WITH whipped cream.
  5. A solo shower, sans children! Put on yoga pants and a flannel (one of my dad's old ones).
  6. Trip to Target with one child including a brief  spat with the return lady and keeping a three year old from breaking the eggs in the cart for 20 minutes.
  7. Willing kisses from the children!
  8. Movie in reclining leather seats with #1 and #2 while daddy sends smiling baby texts after arriving early to eat a junkie dinner at the theater to find no tables due to renovation. Coletyn ate pizza on the floor. Cecelia ate a hot dog on the floor. Mommy ate their scraps!
  9. No one dump candy on the floor.
  10. Come home to baby cuddles.
  11. Kids in bed, sleeping by 7:45pm. 
  12. Boom!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pressure Canning... We Didn't Blow Up! #spoileralert

Why would you chance blowing something up? To can it of course!

To properly put up food that has a pH worthy of growing botulism (higher than 4.5), one must can under pressure. Why? Here, my favorite canning blogger can explain it better here!

So, step one, try not to kill the family.
How do you do such a thing? Just put your head between your knees and kiss your a$$ goodbye, my dad would say. Others may just use a pressure canner. Jason bought me a pressure canner for Mother's Day last year. Romantic. I know! That's how we roll on the Eiting Homestead!

It was scary for it's innagural run but in the end all was well! I recommend just following the directions in the manual.... RTFM!

Very, very basic steps for those who are curious (Do not use solely these steps to pressure can..)

Hot pack your food with pH above 4.5 into jars.

Pack jars according to directions with 3 inches of water in bottom prior to jars. This canner is big enough to get two layers in. Can't do that in a water bath. Why is that awesome sauce? 16 pint jars in one swing. A water bath will only let you do 8 or 9.

Find a heat source. We used the grill. We have a glass top stove which is not recommended for canning in general. I water bath can on it and hasn't broken on me yet. It's something about the temperature and length at which it is at that temperature can crack or shatter the glass top.. yadda yadda. But for safety, we decided to do it on the grill. Jason got a stainless steel plate to put in lieu of the grates. We have a natural gas grill.. yep, comes right off of the house feed, so we wouldn't have to worry about running out of propane and knew we could maintain a consistent heat.

Find a man to lift it onto grill. I couldn't lift it with 18 jars and the weight of the pot.

You heat until you see steam and then you wait 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes you put the pressure gauge on at selected psi based on food and altitude. Then let cook at that psi for time per recipe.

This is the, put your head between your knees and kiss your a$$ goodbye part!

You then let the pot depressurize for hours or overnight and BAM... done! Canned homemade beans.

Then, because you feel like such a rock star, repeat the next Sunday with a new recipe, homemade chicken stock!

All in all, not too shabby. Bad news, I would never be able to do this without Jason simply because I wouldn't be able to lift the pot! Good news, the freezer is no longer my only option for storing foods with pH above 4.5. Boo-Yah!

Tested Recipes!!

Chicken Stock- Pressure Canning

So, this is my recipe. I know I got the basic portions somewhere...

I usually do this every few months. Up until now (ability to pressure can) I would make a vat and then freeze in Mason jars. No freezing any more!!!

The basic recipe for the stock is as follows:

1 package of chicken breasts on the ribs (my store sells in packs with three breasts)

Boil in as much water as you want stock. Count for some evaporation.

Add scraps from the produce drawer that aren't looking so hot. The butt of the celery. Last of the baby carrots. Shriveled up onion.

Also, a few cloves of crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

Cook as long as you can (I do at least three hours). I cook in my stock pot with the strainer in it. Then I just have to pull out the strainer and all the stuff comes with it. I toss the bones, skin and cooked veggies and throw breast meat into Kitchen Aid. With the paddle attachment, in about 5 seconds you have instant shredded chicken. We will then throw it on salads, make chicken tacos or quesadilla some night of the week, etc.

Here your stock is finished.

Next steps are for pressure canning...

Refrigerate the stock over night. Pull out prior to canning and skim off the fat. I was thoughtful to measure the water I put into the pot prior to making the stock so that I would have a ball park of how many jars I would need to can. Chicken stock has a pH of 5.8 so it can not go into a typical water bath canner. See further explanation here.

 Hot packing.

packing the canner

Easy! 16 pints ready for recipes!

For more information on pressure canning see Pressure Canning post!

Canned Beans

I've been trying my best to rid our family of all the man made crap in our food these days. One of the hardest to get rid of has been BPA from the lining of tin cans. Black olives and beans- kidney, black, etc. I've still had to buy in cans. I tried dried beans for a while but I would always forget to soak the night before so I always failed! UNTIL I READ THIS POST! This is one of my favorite canning bloggers. She solved my problem for me.. now just black olives. Hmmmm.

How to Pressure Can Dry Beans

You can pull the basis of the recipe out of there. I did it with kidney beans and white beans but used regular pint mason jars. With the beans I had had hanging around the house, I was able to get 6 pints of kidney beans and 6 pints of white beans!

Beans ready for recipes!

Why would you pressure can beans?? See post here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

School Lunches- Working Mom Shortcuts

I hate packing school lunches, hate, hate, hate. I hate them so much that I never pack myself a lunch.  I usually throw a cucumber and an orange into a bag and call it good unless I buy a salad at school. Unfortunately, this doesn't fly with a six year old. I actually have to pack her a lunch. Feed her hot lunch from school? No. Way. In. Hell. Have you ever seen a school lunch. They are the most unhealthy things you've ever seen!

So, how do I make making lunches easier for me? Well, I've learned a few things in the last two years:

1. I make all five lunches for my peanut on Sunday. I hate doing it so why torture myself five days a week. This also makes the already hectic week nights less hectic because I can just clean out Ya-Ya's lunch box and throw the next one in. Done!

2. In order to pack real food, not processed crap, you need containers. Who wants to pack and clean out multiple containers? No one. Nor do we want to throw a bunch of baggies a day into the landfill so I found these guys... Sistema Lunch Cubes. They are BPA free and you can usually find them for $3.99 at TJ Max. I've seen them at World Market and other places as well. Now, it's one container and if it's full I know I've packed enough food!

3. Real Food! I try to jam as much fruit and veggie options down Cecelia as I can. This isn't the easiest to do but with her right now, I notice if I pack a few of something in her lunch she will eat them. If I pack a lot of something she won't eat it. For example, a few pieces of orange she'll choke down. A whole orange, she won't touch. I'm sure she'll change her MO now that I've figured her out!

4. Sandwiches, how do you keep a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly packed to make it all week? Use toast and double coat the peanut butter. If you use toast the bread will stand up more and a thin layer of the nut butter of your choosing on both sides of the toast will insure the jelly or honey doesn't penetrate the toast! Also, I've found options to a sandwich. Cecelia's favorite are those no bake energy bites that are floating but minus the coconut and chai seed and double the flax seed. We like them better with almond butter but the mix better with peanut butter. Also, sometimes when I'm feeling overwhelmed I may let a cereal or fiber bar go in disguised as the grain for the week.. oops!

5. Food that comes home uneaten turns into a side dish for Cecelia's lunch. After a 5 year stint with constipation and then behavioral constipation, I am continually counting fiber grams for all the kids daily. Almost everything I put in her lunch contains fiber and if she wants bananas for snack, I double up on the fiber!! We prefer slippery poops in this house!! This also helps the, "well if I don't like it I'll just not eat it" part of eating lunch. I know, I am screwed once she realized she can just throw something away at school and I wouldn't be the wiser! I also buy the fiber one fruit snacks. They are basically sugar, I know but the kid wants food like what she sees her friends eating, she is a kid after all! Also, I kind of count it like the treat and even though they aren't the best fiber option, I figure it's better than an alternative!

So here are this week's lunches:

  • those no bake energy bites- FIBER
  • fiber one fruit snacks, sans packaging- FIBER
  • a hand wipe- they don't wash their hands before they eat- YUCK!
  • a low-sugar juice box
  • raspberries- FIBER
  • red bell peppers- FIBER
  • clementine slices- FIBER
  • heart snacks (from Organic section at Woody's- they are high in omega-3s.- FIBER
For snack this week, she picked bananas.-- FIBER

Done for another week. Yes, I realize that I have three kids and one day I won't be able to make 15 lunches to fit in the fridge (if they'd fit I would though) for the week. But I'll probably only do it a few days of the week... WAIT a minute... THREE kids.... 15 lunches a week. What was I thinking!! How long until I can get Cecelia to make everyone's lunches?! Muah ha ha ha!

Older Working Mom posts below!