Say it isn’t so Sweet Potato!!

I love sweet potatoes. I mean… I REALLY love sweet potatoes! Something about them sings to me!

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When I was a kid I had them once a year, covered in marshmellows and more like desert. There is NOTHING wrong with that. Trust me. I still love them… gooey, sweet, dessert on your plate before dessert. What is not to love?

And then I grew up. I was vegetarian. Then Vegan. Then carnivore again. Life happens right?

But somewhere in there I found that sweet potatoes are amazing in muffins, pancakes, hellooooo Sweet Potato Pie!

I also found they can take awhile to peel, cook, mash, get ready when you just want some sweet potato to quickly add! Do you know that anything that calls for pumpkin is even better when sweet potato is added? True! Try it!

And… AND… if you can them, and they are soft, not only can you just mash them up quickly but… they really do make the best and quickest marshmellow brown sugar sticky dessert on your plate. You can do it anytime.  Like… Friday night after a bad week or Monday afternoon at the start of the week. I won’t tell! Promise!

Canning Sweet potatoes is super easy!

First gather your sweet potatoes. Scrub them well . Cut your ends off (Well, you don’t have to, but it feels weirdly wrong to leave them on)

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Drop them into boiling water. These cook about ten minutes and then, when you pull them out, the skins should peel right off! Easy Breezy!

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But they are hot. Really hot! Can you see that steam? Go fast!

Then, you can quarter them or slice them into chunks. These are processed for 90 minutes so lean on larger chunks. Smaller ones may just fall apart. As you chunk your sweet potatoes, put them into hot jars. Cover these with boiling water, remove air bubbles, cap and process for 90 minutes.

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See! I told you it would be easy! NCHFP mentions that you can also can these in syrup if you are going for something sweet. I don’t do that because we use them in a variety of ways but you COULD do that if you wanted. Syrup mixes can be found here NCHFP Syrups

How to use these?

Mash and add to your mashed potatoes for a surprise

Substitute for pumpkin in muffins, pancakes or cookies

Make a sweet potato pie

Drain, rinse and sauté up with bacon and onions

Drain, slather with butter, brown sugar and marshmallows. I won’t tell. Promise.

I used about 11 pounds of sweet potatoes and this made 7 quarts. Scrub your sweet potatoes, boil for ten minutes to heat through and remove skins. Quarter or chunk them into uniform size. Cover with boiling water (or Syrup). Remove air bubbles. Replace caps and process for 90 minutes (quarts) or 75 minutes (pints) in a pressure canner.

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Soup Day!

We love soup!

Chicken soup, minestrone, corn soup, veggie soup, bean soup, you name it we will eat it! Soup is one area of canning that you do get to flex your creative muscles! Following guidelines from NCHFP you can use any soup, bean and vegetable combination that you wish to use. Any bean or legume must be rehydrated first! Then, combine this with broth, simmer for five minutes and place into hot jars with a 50% solid to a 50 % liquid ratio. You then must pressure can for 60 minutes (pints) or 75 minutes (quarts) and TaDa!!

SOUP!

That being said, this is actually a slightly different version of Bean Soup from Ball Blue Book of Canning. I made some small changes but will discuss them. These changes remained in line with NCHFP, so I think we are safe!

Some items should not be canned. These include (but are not limited to)

*Butter/fat/oil

*Rice, Pasta, Grains in general (barley etc)

*Thickeners such as flour, cornstarch, arrowroot etc.

But if is a vegetable, meat or bean! Have fun and experiment!

For today’s canning, I decided on bean soup because we had baked a ham and had a quite large ham bone left. I removed the fatty outer layer and used the bone with some bits of meat attached. I also left out the hot peppers called for in the recipe and I added chopped carrots! Carrots go with soup, right?

First, I soaked 4 pounds of white beans.  Cover them with water and bring to a boil for two minutes. Then turn them off and set aside. When you start, they look like this!

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After an hour, they will look more like this!

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Then you want to drain the liquid out, place back into a large stockpot (or a roasting pan in the oven) with one chopped onion, 4 chopped carrots and 2 hamhocks, 1/2 pound salt pork or a ham bone with the majority of fat gone!

I like to bake mine in the oven so that I don’t worry about burning it, it also warms up my house and leaves the stove open for other food!

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However you cook it, you want to simmer this for two hours. This lets the flavors combine, the beans fully cook and lets the meat get really happy with the beans. Then, take your big soup bone out, shred the meat off of it and add it back in. Notice this is mostly meat and not the fat. Fat is not good in canning! It can really cause problems for sealing your jars, as well as insulate the bot toxin thus preventing heat penetration.

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Once they are all back together, bring your soup up to a boil. Pour your hot soup into hot jars and leave a good  one inch head space. With these, I go about 3/4 of the way with beans and veggies and the rest with broth. Your beans will continue to absorb that liquid so be pretty generous with it! These jars are actually a bit fuller then usual, I took some of the beans out, but of course THAT picture was accidently deleted.

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Then, remove air bubbles with your plastic spatula (NOT your metal butter knife), wipe the rims, cap them and place into your pressure canner. NCHFP calls for a different timing then Ball did, but I went with the Ball Blue Book time of 90 minutes for quarts (75 for pints) because this is so close to their recipe!

Then, when your done, they all cook together and are Happy!  This is a bit better picture of the level I typically go for bean soup! Perfect for a cold winters day!

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Bean Soup

4 pounds dry navy beans

4 hamhocks, a large ham bone or 1/2 pound salt pork

2 chopped onions

4 large chopped carrots

salt, pepper, seasoning to taste

Rinse your beans, cover with water and simmer two minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for one hour. Drain water and add beans, vegetables and meat back to stockpot or ovensafe container. Simmer for two hours until fully cooked. Shred meat (removing fat) and combine with beans, bring back to simmer. Place into jars leaving one inch head space. process for 90 minutes (quarts) or 75 minutes (pints). This makes seven quarts with enough left over for dinner for four.

Simple Frugal Apple Caramel Cake

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Simple Apple Cake. You just can’t get better then this for a fast simple dessert that will make you smile!

This cake is one of my oldest cake recipes I have. This is super simple, frugal and can be made into a healthy cake. I honestly don’t know where the recipe comes from, I found it in a recipe box from a yard sale 20 years ago. It’s been a sturdy recipe!

The thing I love is the ingredients are simple, it makes a small cake and you can have it in the oven within ten minutes. I often bake it while we are having dinner, so its still warm when it comes out!

First, chop your apples. I usually cut the “cheeks” off, then dice up. I have done this when the apples were chopped fine and when chopped larger. It really is personal preference. I have also made this with pears. Any harder fruit would work I am sure.

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You need two cups of apples, this is often just 2-3 apples, depending on what size and variety they are.

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In a mixing bowl, cream your butter until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. In separate bowl mix your flour, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. Combine your creamed butter and flour mixture. Mix well but don’t beat this hard. Then hand stir in your apples. You could also add another half a cup of dried fruit. Cranberries are especially nice! So is lemon zest! You could add a 1/2 cup of nuts if you wish. This is a very forgiving recipe!

Pour this all into an 8 inch square baking dish (or a round one, or a rectangle or whatever you have!

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This will rise up and be quite moist. It bakes for approximately 35 minutes at 350 degrees. It should spring back when you press down in middle (notice the thumb print? Don’t ask a ten year old boy to test it. . . )

For the caramel sauce, its rather simple.

combine your brown sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan. When well combined, stir in your heavy cream, butter, and salt. Simmer on low, stirring until thick. Usually this is done within 5-6 minutes.

Cut your cake, then pour the caramel sauce right over the top. If you really want to indulge, have some ice cream too! Delicious!

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Recipe:

*** Note that this is a forgiving recipe. If you want to use whole wheat, then you can (we do) it will be denser but if you eat this way you already know the texture! You can use white sugar, brown sugar, sucanat, honey (though you may want to throw in another tablespoon or two of flour to even the texture out.

*** Note that you can add other fruits, dry fruits, nuts etc. to this. I have made all sorts of combinations with this over the years. It is very basic recipe so adapt to your own like!

 

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar/brown sugar/honey/sucanat/turbadino/whatever sweetener you like!

1 egg

1 cup flour (we use whole wheat, use what you wish)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups chopped peeled apples (whatever variety you have… or pears, firm peaches, bananas?)

*nuts, dry cranberries, coconut, raisins etc. if you choose

Sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch (please buy GMO free if at all possible!)

1/4 cup cream (half and half, heavy cream or even evaporated milk if it is what you have)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 tsp salt

 

For Cake:

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. In separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add to your creamed mixture. Stir in apples and any other ingredients you may use. Pour into 8 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

For Sauce:

Combine sugar and cornstarch. Mix well. Add other ingredients and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Pour over cake and enjoy!