Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pickles, Soap, and Blender Ketchup

Wow, it is actually cold this morning. We were in that horrid heat spell for so long and nearly roasted. And now, as I stand here, I am in some warm sweat pants and a long sleeved sweater. I am actually cold. I bet it got to almost 40 last night and, before that, it was days in over 90 degree heat. What a change in the weather!


Well, anyway, I must write about pickles. This year, I bought cucumber plants instead of seeds? And I shouldn’t have, as I wasn’t being careful or watching what I was buying. Anyway, I have ended up with those long skinny cukes in my garden? These are good to eat, as they have fewer seeds. But I made the bread and butter pickles with them last year and they ended up mushy. For pickling, you need the old fashioned cukes. Anyway, I will just change my recipe a bit, and I will be ok with the cukes I have. I usually bring my cukes to a boil in the syrup on the stove. But with these new cukes, you can’t get them that hot. So I will just put my sliced cukes in jars and then pour the syrup over them, and this will be fine. I have already made dill pickles this year and they were good and not mushy. So my pickles I will make today will be fine.

I am just getting a few cukes at a time and, today, I will make a few jars of bread and butter pickles. I will just take a big bowl and slice up the cukes. Also, you put in onions and green peppers. You cover these with salt water and let set for a few hours. Then I will rinse them off and drain them. Then I will take some jars and fill them with the cukes, onions, and peppers … then I will pour the syrup over them and then and put a ring and lid on. They will seal from the heated syrup. I won’t water bath can them as the pickles would go to mush. The old fashioned cukes wouldn’t, but the kind I have would.

Well, my syrup is like this. Put in a pan on the stove 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of white vinegar. The spices are a tablespoon or 2 of mustard seed, a fourth teaspoon of turmeric. Just bring this to a boil and put this over the cukes you have in your jars. Push the pickles down so that the syrup covers the pickles. Seal them while they are hot and the lid will seal. Be sure to put a few glass canning jars and rings and lids on the stove in water to boil, to make sure they are sterile. And use these while they are hot to make sure your lids seal.

Also, I have made a lot of corn cob syrup in my day. If you are freezing corn on the cob, and you have a bunch of cobs left from cutting the corn off, just take all the naked cobs and put them in a big pan and boil them for a few hours. Then take the corn out of the pan and throw the cobs on your garden compost pile. Then measure your water you have left in the pan. If you have a quart of water, then throw in that much sugar … a quart. Then just stir it and boil it until it makes a syrup. We used this syrup on pancakes.

Any of this that I write is off the wall, I know, and I don’t use many recipes. So just ask questions about this stuff if ya wanna know something.

Also with this corn cob syrup, you could make jelly if you are rich enough to buy Sure Jell. It’s about the same recipe, but it’s like 3 cups of sugar and 3 pints of corn water and Sure Jell. Oh boy, me and my recipes! Sorrry!!! Well, whatever I used to make it like jelly, if it didn’t thicken up, I just told the kids it was pancake syrup. Whatever works. And if my jelly didn’t thicken at all and was watery? I used it to make bread. Well, it was plenty sugary and fruity, and the kids just ate it and went on about their business.

I wanted to also put down my soap recipe. Ok. Well, you know me and recipes.

Ya know, the old time mothers made soap in the fall, as that was hog butchering time. They used the lard from the hog to make soap. Back in my old days, someone had butchered a hog and gave me 5 pounds of lard. And usually, I made soap when someone gave me lard.


Ok, so for soap, I was such a rascal makin’ soap. You are supposed to dissolve the lye in the water and then carefully add the lard. But just to be funny, I added the dry lye to the lard just to see what would happen. And it didn’t make a smack of difference. So I decided to be less a rebel and add the lye to the water as I was supposed to. So here is my recipe.

It’s just 4 pounds of lard, 1 can of lye, and 3 quarts of water. Make sure the lard is at room temperature. Dissolve the lye in the water in an enamel water bath canner. Then carefully add the lard to the liquid. DON’T DO THIS WITH CHILDREN ABOUT. Just stir the soap, going in one direction … don’t beat it, Annie, or it will curdle. Don’t splash it all over the place … just be careful with it. Stir it until it gets to the consistency of honey. Then have some flat cardboard boxes lined with wax paper ready — or even some glass baking pans would work — to let the soap set up in.

Now, after the soap starts to get thick, then sort of score it. Just start to cut it in bars … just cut half way. You do this so it will be easier to cut once it dries up and gets hard. Let it all set for about a month before using it … it needs to season.

I used an aluminum pan once to make soap, and the lye started to eat a hole in my pan? So you have to use like an enamel pan to make the soap in. And my recipe makes a lot of soap. So the big enamel canners would do good for this. The enamel canners are the ones that are usually black or dark blue with the white speckles? And stir your soap with the fanny paddle? A wooden spoon … a long one? If you splash the soap on yourself, it’s ok … just wipe it off with a wet rag. I mean right away.

Once, I made this soap and made some of it into face soap. I added oatmeal to about half of it and used the other half for laundry soap. But, anyway, I put the oatmeal soap in a glass baking pan to harden up and, had I not caught Dan, he would have eaten a piece. He thought it was oatmeal bars. So make sure you keep this stuff up from the kids and the cats and dogs. My dog would never eat this, but my cat may.

After you make this soap, put it away in a cool safe place to dry and season. One time, I made this recipe and couldn’t get it to set up. I made it probably on the wrong side of the moon. (Aunt Toot shakes her head and rolls her eyes when I talk about making things by the moon.) But, anyway, I had a big cheap box of laundry detergent, and I threw that in until my soap thickened. Wow, that made the best laundry detergent one could imagine! And it lasted a long time … it was great. I would just take a bar and run it threw my blender to make sure it was good and dissolved in hot water. Then I would put it in the wringer washer.

This soap of mine can’t be used for laundry in cold water. You have to just use this for a hot wash. Like if you are using cloth diapers, this would work great. Make sure you get all the soap out of the diapers. If I wanted to get my whites really white? I would put bleach in my blender, dissolve the laundry soap in the bleach, and throw this in the washer. I am tellin’ ya, I got my white socks and underwear so white, we had to wear sunglasses to look at it. (Kidding)

I tried to use this soap on my dog when she had fleas, but it didn’t work. But the Kumbacha tea worked. You all should make that — it’s great! My dog is dead now but lived to be 15. My dog never lacked for tea, let me tell ya, and that dog was very clean, indeed.

Ok, to make goat milk soap, I just substitute a quart of goat milk for a quart of the water. So it was 1 quart of milk and 2 quarts of water, instead of 3 quarts of water. You can make herb soap out of this recipe. But be sure to dry the herbs first.

Now, you can buy lard at the store for cheap. I think around here, it isn’t even a buck a pound for fresh lard. You could make it with the white shortening, too. I knew a woman once who made her soap this way.


Well, I used to make this at the end of the garden season in the fall. I would can all my other tomatoes or freeze them. Then with the end of the garden tomatoes, I made ketchup. Actually, I would say it’s more like a relish? Jim eats it on everything, from fried potatoes to scrambled eggs to hot dogs to hamburgers … he loves this stuff.

Ok, ya just wash and core about 8 pounds of tomatoes. This would be about 16 regular sized tomatoes, more or less … it doesn’t matter. Also, cut up some onions (just a few) and green peppers. Just cut them up and make sure they are clean. You don’t have to peel tomatoes. Then blend them up using the white vinegar for the liquid. Just blend it all up. I keep part of the vinegar in the blender as I work, and so I have plenty of the liquid to keep on blending the tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

Once this is done, I put it on the stove to boil. Now, this will foam up. So scoop the foam off and throw this out to the garden. So after you have boiled this a bit and scooped most of the foam off, then add 3 cups of sugar, 3 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of mustard seed, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. You could add some ground cloves and allspice, but I don’t. I add some garlic and black pepper, and celery seed if I have it.

Anyway, I make all of this in a big turkey roaster. I make it, at the beginning, on top of the stove, then I bake it in the oven on a low temp all day until it thickens. Boy, does the house smell good with this stuff in the oven. I then can this ketchup and it makes about 5 pints. You could freeze it in plastic margarine containers.

Our tomatoes are just now turning red. So I will have a lot of them pretty soon. So I think I will make my ketchup early, as wild man will eat a lot more this way then any other way. I don’t make salsa, as Jim wont eat it.

I will make tomato sauce, too. I just blend the tomatoes with onions, peppers, and spices … garlic, etc. … salt, and a bit of sugar. I don’t put the liquid in my blender. I just squeeze some tomatoes in it, and then blend up the peppers and onions and the rest of the tomatoes in the liquid. I don’t add water. Well, then I just bake all of this for the day to make a sauce. If the tomatoes don’t thicken, just add a big can of tomato paste from the store. You can freeze all of this in freezer bags. You can make spaghetti sauce out of it, or BBQ sauce, or whatever you need. I use a lot of this for winter soups and stews. It’s handy to have for about anything we eat. And if you don’t have time to make the sauce now, just freeze the tomatoes and make the sauce later in the fall.

I have also pickled some of my green tomatoes with a dill pickle syrup. I always use all of my tomatoes for something. I feel rich if I have plenty of tomatoes.

Papa just brought in a big Hubbard squash out of my garden this morning. It came up as a volunteer, as I had thrown some out to the compost pile last fall. I got stuff out there that I am not even sure of myself. I thought I had pumpkin out there, but I dunno. Something is taking over on Papa’s lawn and I told him to let it grow, whatever it is. It has a lot of orange blossoms on it. No tellin’ what it is.

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