Comfort food

As the cold slowly drifts into our daily life here is lovely ole’ Iowa, I am starting to think about food. I love food. A lot. I especially love winter comfort food. Soups and stews and casseroles, oh my!

The other day I was at Mom’s for dinner. She had made a soup that my grandma calls Alice’s Soup. It was delish! It really didn’t sound all that great, but boy was I wrong. I could have definitely had a second bowl. So when I went to the grocery store the next time, I got all the ingredients to make my own batch. You see, as we slow down on the farm in the winter I am home a lot more regularly and eat dinner alone most days. Soups are my go to meals. This one is on top of my list. It’s a really simple soup that is hardy.

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It starts with Cauliflower. A whole head, chopped.

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Of course I never do anything with veggies without taking the trimmings out to the rabbits.

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Once chopped and rinsed well, put in a pot with just enough water to cover it and bring to a boil. Boil until tender.

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While that is boiling, I cut up the onion and potatoes.

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I made a double batch so I couldn’t fit all the cauliflower and the potatoes in one pan.

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Lovely! In to the pot they go and boil until tender.

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One whole onion finely chopped. Sauté in butter until tender.

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I also used bouillon cubes instead of chicken broth. Boiled the water and let them dissolve.

20161202_09005120161202_090727.jpgThe next thing is the ham. The recipe says as much as you want. I used about half of this ham for a double batch.

20161202_092218.jpgOnce cubed I just set it aside.

20161202_092618.jpgThe last ingredients are Bean and Bacon soup and Velveeta.

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Of course mom does all things to taste. But she told me how much she used for her soup and that’s what I used. It was only about 4 oz.

Once everything is mix it all together in a pot and simmer.

20161202_094626.jpgNow, here’s where I hope my mom isn’t reading this. I am always giving her a hard time about not just following the recipe. Well…I didn’t exactly follow the recipe.

20161202_091617.jpgI was digging through my pantry and came across a can of mushrooms. So I thought, huh, that might be good. So I chopped them up and sautéed them in butter.

20161202_092233I then added them to the soup. I thought is was about perfect. However, when I went to town the next day I say corn and thought, Umm maybe I should. So I did. A half of a can of cream corn and a half a can of regular corn. Now it is perfect!

I froze a number of containers and ate a couple. Can’t wait for some cold crappy day to settle in with this.

Grapes, the Final Steps

Ok, I think I have everything I need to finish up! Quick trip to town for more sugar and a couple more boxes of Certo.

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You need one pouch of Certo per batch and 7 cups of sugar. That is a lot, but it is sooo yummy! I had to wash up the jars and make sure I had enough lids.

Since I haven’t done this all in one day, which would have been easier, I have to reheat the juice. I am doing 2 batches at a time.

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Then you add the sugar and stir in.

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7 cups per batch, so with 2 batches in the pot, I had to add 7cups, stir, and add 7 more and stir again.

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Then you heat to a rolling boil and add the Certo before bringing back to rolling boil.

Meanwhile I was getting my jars ready. Mom always said having the jars hot before you put the lids on them helps them seal better. So after the jars are all washed and clean, I put them back in the sink and pour boiling water over them.

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I am going to need a lot of jars I think.

Once the Jelly Jam is ready to be put in the jars, I take them out and drain them a few minutes before filling them.

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Then it’s time to fill them up.

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Once they are filled, you quickly put the lids on them and tighten. Then you let them sit and hope they set up!

I ended up with 14 jelly jars and 21 pint of Grape Jelly Jam. Should be good to go for the year!

 

Grapes, Again

So we left the grapes soaking, to remove any bugs or grass or whatever might be sticking to them. Once they have soaked for about an hour, I get a clean colander and bowl and take them off the stems and then rewash them.

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Once that is done I start weighing them. The recipe calls for 3 pounds of grapes.

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This bowl full is usually pretty close to 3 pounds. My scale shut off before I got the picture taken but once I have enough for one batch, I put them in my big pot.

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Then you add 1/2 cup of water per 3 pounds of grapes. My pot holds 6 pounds at a time. Once they come to a boil, I turn them down and simmer them for about 10 minutes or until I think they are pretty mushy.

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This is where we enter the Jelly Jam variation. Instead of putting the cooked down grapes into cheese clothe and letting the juice drip out and then squeezing the remaining little bit of juice out, I put the grapes into my tomato juicer spinny thing (yes I think that is the technical name of this contraption) I spin the grapes until all I am left with is skins and seed.

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There isn’t much left and the juice is actually a little thicker and you get more out of them. I always put what I call the guts in another, smaller colander to drain again. As the guts sit a little extra juice drips off into the bowl beneath.

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This I just pour into the juice container after I am done juicing all the grapes.

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When I was done cooking down both bowls of grapes, I ended up with 26 cups of juice!! Each batch of Jelly Jam needs 4 cups of juice, so that means a little over 6 batches this year!

Take another break because I don’t have enough sugar for that! See you back here tomorrow!

 

Don’t forget we are just a few days from Opening Day at Eden Hills Pumpkin Patch! Teresa has all kinds of fun lined up just for you!

 

Grapes, Day 1

Mom called and the grapes at my Great Uncles are ready. So I grabbed my bowls and headed off. Grapes are pretty important around here. My kids only eat grape jelly jam. Yes jelly jam. We made up the word to explain what it is we make. Which I will explain to you.

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He just has the vines in his back yard. They aren’t huge, but they sure produce!

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As soon as you get close you can smell them! Of course I tried a few to make sure they were tasty again this year. Ok, I tried a bunch.

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They are pretty close to perfect this year. Such a pretty little bunch.

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We loaded up all of our bowls pretty quickly. We didn’t even come close to getting them all.

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Once I got my two bowls home I filled them both with water to get the bugs and grass and what have you off. While they soak I was bust getting out what I would need for the next step, which would be cooking them down, but you can swing on back tomorrow for that! See you then.