Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Update to my Ground Beef Post

If you need any additional reasons to grind your own ground beef . . . .

The other day we were going to be taking pictures in the bluebonnets right at dinner time and I needed something really fast for dinner so I thought I would make sloppy joes & french fries.  Rylan and I went to the super Wal Mart for a few things.  I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and get groceries and the other things I needed in one place.  I don't like Wal Mart super centers.  The stuff is in a lot of odd places (designed to keep you circling, picking up more items I'm sure) so I can never find what I want.  Also, they only offer what they get a good price on, so I can't always find what I want.  I read that they use some sort of gas in their meat trays to make the meats stay red longer. I try to avoid wal mart really.  But in the interest of saving time, I went there.

I got all the stuff I needed, then rounded the bend to the meat section.  I found some ground beef that was only 4% fat.  It said it was " Natural* "  Why the asterisk??  I turned the pkg. over and it said it was "ground beef with natural flavorings".  I ask you - why do you add "flavorings" to meat???  To top it off, this meat was a product of - USA, Canada AND Mexico!!! 

When I grind beef, I use one CUT (like a sirloin roast), from ONE COW.  This meat from Wal Mart could possibly have come from three different COUNTRIES, and who knows how many different animals.  Gross!!!  Needless to say, I put it back and left!

It's really sad that so many consumers are like cows lining up for slaughter.  They think they're getting the best price and they head to the largest store with the largest advertising budget.  They blindly throw stuff in their shopping baskets and head for the door.  It reminds me of that 70's movie - Soylent Green!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Marc planted about 200 or so everbearing strawberry plants last year.  This year they have really produced a lot of fruit.  We've picked lots and there are more blooms on the plants.  We lost some in the drought but remarkably most of the plants survived.  These particular berries ("Eversweet" variety from Womack Nursery) is ok, but not the sweetest berry I've ever had.  The supposedly produce well in this area, which is why we tried them.  The idea of the everbearing type of berry seems like it would work well  - you get a steady supply of berries throughout the season.  However, even with 200 plants we only get about 1/2 gallon every other day or so.  Of course, we lose some berries to birds and bugs.  Considering that we don't use any chemicals on these berries, I think they've done really well.  I think the next time we plant strawberries we'll plant the "June bearing" type, which gives you a lot of berries over a short period. 

We've been enjoying the berries fresh as well as in strawberry milkshakes.  I made some strawberry frozen yogurt in my cuisinart ice cream maker - it was super easy.  I bought some fat free yogurt at Kroger for $1 for about a quart (the expiration date was coming up so they wanted to get rid of it), added about 2 cups pureed strawberries, sugar, milk, and vanilla.  I also poured a little of this mixture into some popsicle molds and froze them.  Rylan and Journey liked them.  I've been freezing sliced strawberries in portion sized containers and pureed berries in 2 cup size containers for making jam. 

I have tried the various pectin products available in the stores and never really liked the way the jams turned out.  I don't like jelly so I never make it.  I have seen Pomona's Pectin in the health food store but it was a little pricey, so I never tried it.  I wasn't sure if I would have any greater success with it, so I didn't want to spend the extra money on it.  They claim you can use less sugar and one box makes several recipes.  I got in on Dana's coop purchase not too long ago and they carry the Pomona's Pectin from the coop that Dana buys from, it was much cheaper than the store.  It does in fact make several batches from one box, so it really turns out to be cheaper than the store pectins.  It jelled really well, almost too well.  Next time I will not cook it quite so long. 

With the Pomona's Pectin you mix up some calcium (included in the box) with water and keep it refrigerated.  It lasts a long time (months).  Somehow this calcium makes the pectin jell better.  Anyway, other than the calcium, the method is pretty much the same as any other pectin product.  I was able to use less than half the usual amount of sugar.  With the usual recipes, you basically end up with fruit flavored sugar.  With this method, you can actually taste the fruit. 
Mash & measure the fruit

Bring fruit to boil, have sugar/pectin mix ready

Getting ready to process the jam in a boiling water bath canner

Finished jam

Rylan enjoying Grandma & Granda Krause's Strawberry Jam

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Here's Journey modeling this year's Easter Dress.  These pics were taken in her great-grandmother's yard, which is always decorated for Easter. 

The dress is a peasant style, with the skirt made from squares sewed into a patchwork.