Friday, February 17, 2017

The Pioneer In Me

I once read and used The Foxfire books. Anyone know them??
Yes, books written by a group of High School students and put together by their teacher...to help them understand that not everything comes from a store and self-sufficiency is a lesson to learn and understand.
We as a young married couple had the complete set...and used them...for some of the skills they showed. (I won't go into detail.....)
But, those days are long gone as are the paperback books that never made it to the last move. If you can find them...they are fun to read about life in the Alleghenies and the people who choose to live in the remote areas....
My point is this...every now and then as I travel through traffic and crowded streets I occasionally want to live that far simpler life. In my 60s now, I don't think I could....but still....
However, there are things that I can do to embrace the simpler life and enjoy it....
Last night, as I drove home from babysitting, I decided I would make orange marmalade, which meant I had to wash these fabulous organic oranges from a friend that night and slice them and get them ready for the canning....
I also decided that a winter storm is coming in, so, nothing better than onion soup on a cold and wet night. So, when I got home, I took out the beef bones from the freezer to make beef bone broth.
In all the self sufficient things we do, there is one thing in common. Planning ahead.
Yes we have pressure cookers and such to speed things along, but it still takes planning.
So, last night, though I was tired, I got going....



First, I washed them... 
Then I finely chopped them....
And put them in a pot. When the oranges and two lemons were in, I measured out the water and brought them to a boil. I removed them from the heat and measured out the sugar. (lots is required)
I stirred that in until it was fully dissolved and then covered and let it sit overnight.
There are lots and lots of recipes out there and I have tried numerous ones. The best recipes all let the oranges sit in their juice overnight on the counter, lightly covered.
What it does is draw out the natural juice and the pectin from the orange peel. This way no added pectin is really required.
This is one recipe my jelly maker cannot do. It is great for most all jams and jellies but cannot do marmalade, butters or tomato jam (which is really a tomato butter....)
So, old fashioned canning techniques are used here and the water bath canner.....
So it is a day for "pioneering" though I am using some more modern tools of sorts.
Meanwhile, while I prepared the oranges...I put the beef bones sprinkled with salt and pepper into the oven to roast for about an hour.
The homey and yummy smells that emanated from the kitchen were sublime.
Then when those were roasted, I put them in my pressure canner with carrots and herbs and garlic (I was saving the onion for the next day)...so I could make broth.
In 35 minutes I turned it off and added some wine and set it for 15 more minutes.
In the end, I had a rich smelling broth that then went into the fridge.
However, the meat had not come off the bones, so I stuck them back into the pressure canner and set it for slow cook and added more liquid and wine and herbs and stuff....
I set it for 10 hours. So, it cooked and steamed all night long.
Problem here was a learning curve....I left it on HIGH...and hadn't changed it to LOW...so there was virtually no broth at all in the morning! OOOPs
No loss. Like that pioneer, I wasn't going to let perfectly good bones and meat go to waste....nope, not me. I put them back in added water and wine (see a trend here??) and more salt and pepper and turned it on to slow cook (yes, on high) for 2 hours. I should get more broth that is concentrated this time.
Meanwhile,  this morning I was up and ready to make marmalade.

So, the water bath canner got filled, the jars went into the dishwasher to get thoroughly cleaned and hot, and the oranges went into the Le Creuset. It was then I realized...another OOOPS, I had doubled the batch in my excitement (a total no no) and had to divide the orange yumminess...oh well...we will see.....
So, here I sit, waiting for beef bone broth and orange marmalade.
There is a basket of limes waiting to be sliced and dehydrated and possibly be made into a marmalade as well....I don't know yet.
All I know, is that Pioneer in Me is calling me to do something with the bounty I have and not waste it.
I hope you have a great day! Stay warm and dry wherever you are.
Nancy

1 comment:

NanaDiana said...

Oh- It sounds like a 'homesteading' day to me. I grew up in a pretty self-sufficient world on a farm...make do-use it up..don't toss it out. I sometimes think about that way of life, too. If I did not have an active family life with grands, etc., I think I could very easily adapt to that way of life. Certainly one of work and not soft and easy--but still so satisfying somehow. I even look back on my first years of marriage here and worked so hard and had so little and yet it was a good time in many ways. xo Diana