Monday, August 20, 2012

Dehydrating Okra

Okra is a southern staple in the garden.  It loves the heat and will continue to produce till it starts getting cooler. It's one of those plants that gives and gives (and gives).  A lot of folks farther to the north can't grow it well because they just don't have enough time and heat.  Did you know that you have to pick it daily or it gets tough on the vine.  Or that it doesn't keep long once it's picked.  Which means if you are canning it you'll have to do smaller batches unless you've got a ton of plants. I've got a better option.

I met a guy (I won't mention his name) from Washington state who had never grown okra before. Since he knew everything there was about gardening (cough) he decided to give it a try down here. So he proceeded to plant a 250 foot row double spaced in okra.  Now if you've ever grown this stuff before you know just how prolific and how fast it grows. That's why most folks only grow 15-20 plants.  I tried to tell him that with 200 feet of okra that he would need someone out there all day every day doing nothing but picking okra.  Shoot, by the time you picked a 250' double row, it   you'd have to start back down it again. We left before I got to watch him freak out come about the middle of August!  I still laugh when I picture him out there picking okra till the sun goes down.  I bet that was one lesson learned!  LOL!!!

So what can you do with all that bounty?  I've found the best way (I think) to preserve okra so you can have it in the dead of winter and still get that awesome fresh okra taste.  Dry it! 

 This is one of those veggies that does amazingly well when dried and re-hydrated. (right down to the "slime") Oh, and did I mention it's easy to do???
                                    Dehydrating Okra

Slice okra into even size pieces for uniform drying.  Lay it out on your dryer trays so the pieces aren't overlapping. It's ok if they touch, you just don't want them on top of each other.  Set the dryer to your veggie setting (135-145 degrees) and let it go till it's crisp and totally dried.  Put it in an air tight container to store it. That's it.  Pretty simple yes?

Now if you want to there are some things you can do before you dry your okra.  You can season it with different spices before drying. When it's dried it also makes great snack food. Things like seasoned salt, Cajun seasoning, Greek seasoning.... let your imagination go with it. 

When its re-hydrated you can use it just like you would fresh okra.  You can put it in soups or stews or even better.... Gumbo!  Or you can do my favorite thing with it. Fry it in a cornmeal mix and pig out!   Man, I love me some fried okra. 

I found a tip somewhere that says to coat the okra you are going to fry with a beaten egg and let it sit in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes.  

Then coat it in your cornmeal/flour mixture and fry it. It make all the difference in the world.  I've got to admit it works wonderfully. 
 The coating stays on and it almost reminds me of the frozen battered stuff you get from the frozen food section at the grocery store only it tastes better!  I've thought about trying to flash freeze it on cookie sheets once it's battered but haven't actually tried it yet. I'm pretty sure it would work though. I'm going to have to try it and see for myself. It would be a cool time saver and as close to fast food as I've been in ages! LOL

                           Now that's some good eating!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DHS Classifies New Ammo Purchaces Following Controversy

I rarely post articles in full here but I think this one is so important that everyone should know what our own government is doing. And the fact that they are now trying to hide their actions.  Over one BILLION rounds of ammo have been bought by DHS, NOAA, Social Security and other agency's in the past few months.  What we need to be doing is asking why and demanding an answer.  Of course we won't get an answer from them.  We have to come to our own conclusions.  
  I don't watch t.v. so I can't be 100% sure but I'm willing to bet that this is not being reported on the alphabet news stations. ( ABC, NBC, CNN etc.)  

Paul Joseph Watson
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The Department of Homeland Security has redacted information relating to the quantity of bullets it is buying following a controversy concerning the agency’s purchase of over a billion rounds of ammo, which many fear is a sign the federal government is preparing for civil unrest in the United States.
Despite the fact that documents are only supposed to be redacted if authorized by Congress or for national security reasons, a solicitation posted on the FedBizOpps website yesterday concerning ammunition purchases made by the DHS on behalf of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) contains numerous blacked out sections.
The classified portions of the document include references to the amount of 223 62 and 223 64 grain ammunition being purchased.
The solicitation explains how the contract put out by the DHS to purchase the ammunition was not subject to “full and open competition,” a process justified by what the DHS claims was an “unusual and compelling urgency” to acquire the bullets, noting that there is a shortage of bullets which is threatening a situation which could cause “substantial safety issues for the government” should law enforcement officials not be adequately armed.
The Department of Homeland Security’s decision to black out sections of the document, including the number of bullets being purchased, is likely to be related to a massive controversy which has snowballed over the last few weeks pertaining to concerns as to why the federal agency has purchased well over a billion rounds of bullets over the last 6 months alone.
The DHS’ decision back in March to purchase of 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage prompted questions as to why the federal agency required such powerful bullets and in such large quantities merely for training purposes.
This was followed up by a more recent order for a further 750 million rounds of assorted ammunition, including bullets that can penetrate walls.
Given the fact that the DHS is also acquiring riot gear in preparation for civil unrest which could take place at the upcoming DNC, RNC and presidential inauguration, the purchase of ammunition in such massive numbers has stoked fears that the federal government could be preparing to use force against the American people.

This screenshot illustrates how the DHS has blacked out information pertaining to the amount of bullets being purchased.
The trigger for this could be an economic collapse that causes angry Americans to flood the streets similar to scenes witnessed across Europe over the last two years.
As Mike Adams writes, “The U.S. government clearly sees the writing on the wall. What lays ahead for America is a day of unbearable reckoning. The financial collapse will wipe out savings accounts, pensions, investment funds and equities of the working class, all across the nation. Imagine bank accounts being reset to zero, “bank holidays” enforced at gunpoint. That will unleash a wave of violent protests, social chaos and even talk of revolution. The government will almost certainly respond with a declaration of Martial Law, the rolling out of highway checkpoints, and before long, the use of live ammo on unruly protesters.”
The Social Security Administration has also recently purchased a large quantity of hollow point bullets, potentially signaling that authorities fear welfare riots could occur if benefit payments cannot be made. The NOAA also recently purchased 46,000 rounds of hollow point ammunition.
The DHS’ decision to censor information related to bullet purchases for immigration authorities could also be an attempt to assuage concerns that the agency is expecting to have to resort to force to deal with a mass influx of immigrants from Mexico.
Back in December, Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano directed ICE to prepare for a substantial inundation of immigrants into the United States, calling for the plan to deal with the “shelter” and “processing” of large numbers of people.
During the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987, it was revealed that the federal government had established a contingency program under the pretext of a mass influx of immigrants called Rex 84. The program was a secretive “scenario and drill” developed by the federal government to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, assign military commanders to take over state and local governments, and detain large numbers of American citizens determined by the government to be “national security threats.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Monkey Jam

Some of you have been asking for the recipe for making Monkey Butter.  What is  Monkey Butter?  (besides yummy?)  It is a spread made with banana's. Yep, banana's! The first time I had ever heard of canning bananas was from Jen over at The Double Nickle Farm.   I just love banana's so I was instantly intrigued. After doing some research I found that there was very little information on canning banana's. The most popular and most referred to recipe I could find was Kris Watson's article  but there are others floating out there as well. 

Once in awhile I find banana's marked down for quick sale. Ripe banana's that need to be eaten quickly or frozen for later use in making banana bread or muffins.  So after finding one heck of a deal on them a few weeks ago I decided I was going to try canning banana's.  Here's the version I came up with. A SciFi version if you will! I decided I wanted a jam instead of a butter this time.

Monkey Jam
Makes: about 8 (1-cup) jars.

4 cups prepared fruit (about 11 fully ripe medium bananas)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cans crushed pineapple
1 box powdered fruit pectin
1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)
6 cups sugar,  separate

Get your water bath canner going and sterilize your jars. Warm your lids in a small pot.

Mash the banana's and measure 4 cups into a big pan. Stir in the lemon juice and the crushed pineapple into the fruit. Add the pectin. Then add the butter to reduce foaming if you want.

  Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (one that won't stir down) on high heat. Stir constantly. Stir in all the sugar at once. Bring the mixture back to aa full rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Spoon into your jars, and fill  to within 1/4 inch of tops. Use a knife and pop any air bubbles.  Wipe the jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw the bands finger tight. Place the jars on a rack in canner.  Process 15 minutes. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. If a jar doesn't seal be sure to put it in the fridge and use within 3 months. (I doubt if it lasts nearly that long)

I tried three different recipes and have to say they were all good.  The main difference I ran across was the amount of banana's used in the recipes.  All except one called for about 4 cups of banana's.  Only one called for pectin.They all came out really good but I think the one that worked best for me was the one I shared with you here.  I had a hard time with the ones with no pectin actually setting up as well.  More of a loose spread than I was looking for but they sure don't lack for good flavor. I guess though that's why they call it Monkey Butter instead of Monkey Jam.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Well Color Me Camo!

Well color me camo and call me a conspiracy theorist.  They laid out a bunch of chemtrails contrails yesterday and today we have a few clouds and a rumble of thunder.  There's even a 20% chance of isolated thunderstorms in the area.  I haven't seen any of those things in a few weeks.

We could sure use the rain though. The fires around here are "contained" for the time being but still smoldering. They are still putting out hotspots and have the bulldozers out working too.  There is talk on the radio about them starting some backfires to clear up trouble spots.  We are staying vigilant and hoping that the winds don't pick up.

I haven't let my panic mode stop me from doing some canning though.  I was in Little Big Town a few days ago shopping and stumbled on another "real deal" in the produce department. They had several big bags of banana's and three 2 lb bags of plums marked down to $1.29 a bag.  Yep! I snatched up all three bags of plums and two bags of the banana's . One might think I might have gone overboard on the banana's as they were about 10 lbs each. But!  I had a plan!  I made 8 half pint's of monkey butter, 5  half pints and 2 pints and of banana butter with it. The rest of them were just too "squishy" and dark to do more so I just stuck them in the freezer for using later. I'll have some to make banana bread with if it ever cools down long enough to bake in the house.  I put up 6 pints of plum jelly too!  I'm officially out of 1/2 pint jars now so anything I do will have to be in pints or quart jars.

Another thing I was able to do was to get rid of that old freezer burned pork ( that's a story for another time) that has been taking up room for over a year now.  I boiled it all up and canned it for dog food.  I'll just add rice and veggies as needed. I figured it would take sooo many less jars (and canner loads) to do it this way. So that makes a total of 21 quarts.  It won't feed her long but its a start.  I can get three feedings a jar from it with added goodies so thats not too bad.

And why was I all the sudden on a canning spree, you might wonder?  Well I got an awesome gift from my mom this past week. (Thanks Mom, I Love You)  I am now the proud owner of a KajunKooker three burner high pressure propane stove!  It is awesome too.  I can boil a canner of water in less than 15 minutes now. It was taking me over an hour before.  I gave it a work out doing all that canning I was telling you about.  It hardly took any time at all to get it done either. It was taking me all day to do just a couple of canner loads a day on the burner I have been using. Now I can get it done in just 2-3 hours.  Amazing how the proper tools make the work so much easier!

Oh, if you are wondering why there is no picture today, I've been put in "time out" again by WildBlue Sucks. It seems once again I have exceeded my bandwidth.  Of course to upgrade to an even worse plan would cost me $200.  I think I'll pass. So for now I'll just take the time out. 

Well folks, I hope you all have a wonderful day.  I'm off to SmallsVille to run some errands.  I need to fill a propane tank :-)

UPDATE:  The name of the cooker is actually a King Kooker (Made in La. which is probably why I called it by the wrong name...)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wildfires in Oklahoma

View behind the property
Wildfires raged across  Northeast  Oklahoma this weekend.  To say it was scary would be an understatement. The drought has turned everything here into a giant tinderbox.  The town's just a few miles to the north and to the west had to be evacuated.  Over 50,000 acres were burned and several homes were lost. It appears they have the fires under control at the moment.  I just hope they stay that way.  We came extremely close to bugging out and would have had the fires gotten any closer.  The winds were in our favor Saturday and kept the biggest fire pushed to our north.  We watched the smoke most of the day and later the flames in the night sky.  A bit before dark I saw the smoke from the fire in the town to the west of us. It must have been moving pretty quickly because they had evacuated the entire town in just two hours.   A cool front moved in and kind of stopped the progress of the fire some. To say it was a long night would be an understatement. We did manage to get a little sleep but not much.
   This morning we awoke to thick smoke hanging in the air.  We tried to get some information on what was going on with the fires.  Where they were located, what direction they were moving in, what roads were still closed and which were now open.  Can you believe we couldn't find a single bit of information on the radio?  I'm assuming that the stations here must be on some sort of Sunday pre-recorded programing because not even the news was "new".    So we took a ride out toward the west to see if we could tell how far away the fires were.  We didn't go to far but realized that if they were still burning we were going to have to evacuate.  Mars re-installed the 5th wheel hitch in the ( wrecked and totally illegal) truck and was in the process of taking the skirting off the trailer when we realized that the smoke was clearing up and we couldn't see the smoke clouds in the sky. The fires has been contained.   We came so close to loosing most everything this weekend. Many did.
  My prayers are with them all.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gardening In Our Blood

When autumn time arrived last year,
I said, "I've really had it, dear!
I've raked and hoed and picked and canned;
Just see that callus on my hand!
You know what I've been thinking, dear?
Lets let our garden go next year.
We'll buy all those things in the store-
They wouldn't cost us too much more.
When summer comes I'll sleep till ten,
Get up and clean the house, and then
I'll make a glass of lemonade
And go sit beneath the shade.
When you come home at night from work,
I'll put the coffee on to perk,
Then we'll sit down and talk or read
And never think of garden seed."
Remember how you smiled and said,
"I think you've really used your head
To save us all this work next year
I'm sick of gardening, too, my dear."

But then one day, the sky was blue,
The sun was warm, the tulips grew.
The April days grew long and free,
The ground lay waiting patiently.
The sleeping grass awoke to green,

And then in every magazine
Were ads for bulbs and plants and seeds-
In fact, for all your gardening needs.
One day you picked me up downtown.
With bundles I was loaded down.
No need to try and hide the facts
With "Burpee Seeds" stamped on the sacks.
Remember how your face got red
And how you turned away and said,
"When we've unloaded all that junk,
I have a few things in the trunk.
I'll need some help, for it is hot
And seed potatoes weigh a lot."

So now we stand here, hand in hand
And gaze at our productive land.
The berry beds are weeded clean,
The vegetables are tall and green.
We love our land in drought or mud,
For we have gardening in our blood.

~ Jean Little~