Organizing The Spices.

Our family loves spices. We almost always double the amount listed in recipes – other than salt (with few exceptions, we don’t use salt at all).  We keep pepper available in the kitchen, and we have one main “spice drawer” in our kitchen filled with the items we use the most often. We have several additional boxes of lesser-used spices that we keep in a high cupboard.  The smell of them is fantastic!

But.. our spices get messy. SO messy!

This morning, before work, I organized my spice drawer. Surprisingly, it took me less than 15 minutes. I took everything out, wiped down the inside of the drawer, then decided to use Sharpie markers to write the spice names on the lids. It occurred to me that most of the mess has been as a result of needing to pull out all the different bottles and jars to see what the label on the front said, so this should help significantly.

Here’s the before and after shot. I’m pleased – but we’ll see how long it stays tidy..

spices

I used a regular (purple) Sharpie on the lighter coloured lids and a metallic silver one for the black lids.

The overflow boxes of spices are still up in the cupboard and, at some point, I may decide to clean them out a bit too! Easy peasy!

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Spicy Smoky BBQ Sauce.

Stacked pints!

Stacked pints!

I wanted to continue to involve my 13 year old son in the process of canning things, so we decided to make BBQ sauce together. The process didn’t involve much chopping or dicing (though he was unimpressed with the onions stinging his eyes and the amount of time that it takes to press the garlic) and it came together fairly quickly. It was messy, however, and involved a lot of measuring.

We used this recipe and doubled it (for a total of 15 pints). We then pressure canned it (so we could stack, as noted in the photo above).

One jar leaked (ew) and two didn’t seal properly (so they’re in the fridge) but the taste is pretty darned good!

Sloppy Joes!

I recruited my 13 year old son to help make some pressure canner sloppy joe sauce – and he pretty much did the whole thing himself with me giving him the tips and tricks as we went along. It’s his first time canning anything – I couldn’t be prouder.

Still bubbling!

Still bubbling!

Here’s the recipe:

Sloppy Joe Sauce

Makes 6 pints.

4 lbs ground beef
2 c. chopped onion
6 tsp. Worcestershire
3 cups ketchup (make sure there are no thickeners!)
1/2 c. water
4 T. brown sugar
4 T. apple cider vinegar
4 tsp. mustard

Directions :

  1. Prepare 6 pints, lids, and rings.
  2. In a large stainless steel pot, cook beef and onion over medium heat.
  3. While cooking the meat, mix all of the other ingredients in a large bowl, whisking to make sure it’s well blended.
  4. Drain the meat and onion mixture very well, removing as much fat as possible.
  5. Add all of the ingredients together in the large pot and bring to a boil, stirring often.
  6. Continue to cook at a lower heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  7. Fill jars to 1 inch head space. Clean rims and apply lids and rings.
  8. Process pints at 11 pounds for 75 minutes.

To serve, open the jar and scoop into a pan. Heat it up and put it on bread, toast, buns, or whatever you normally use for your Sloppy Joes! (2 pints makes approximately 9 sandwiches.)

Pickled Ginger.

I love pickled ginger – I like to eat strips of it when we go out for sushi. There are small bottles of it for sale in the grocery store near me but, as I discovered, the ingredients include food colouring (to make it pink) and aspartame.

Yes, aspartame.

I searched for a recipe, adapted it slightly, and here’s the result:

3 pints of pickled ginger.

3 pints of pickled ginger.

Here’s the recipe:

Pickled Ginger.

Makes approximately 3 pints.

Ingredients:
2 pounds of fresh ginger
4 cups of white vinegar
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
2 tablespoons of kosher/pickling salt (for brine)
2-3 tablespoons of kosher/pickling salt

Directions:

  1. Peel the ginger. Using a mandolin, slice the ginger as thinly as possible (no thicker than 1/16 inch).
  2. Place ginger in a large bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Use your hands to ‘stir’ the ginger to try to get as much coverage with the salt as possible. Let sit for one hour.
  3. After one hour, drain and rinse the salt off the ginger.
  4. Prepare waterbath canner, jars, and lids. Keep everything warm.
  5. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, then increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
  6. When the liquid boils, add the ginger. Stir gently to soften it (about 30 seconds).
  7. Drain the ginger in a large colander over a bowl and reserve the vinegar mixture.
  8. Using tongs or a ladle, place the ginger strips into hot jars – fill to approximately 1/2″ head space. Press down gently, but don’t pack the ginger in the jars.
  9. Pour in the vinegar mixture into the jar and fill to 1/2″ head space. Remove air bubbles, and add liquid if necessary.
  10. Wipe rim and place lid and ring on the jar.
  11. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes at a full boil.
  12. Remove lid from canner, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars to cool.
  13. If any jars don’t seal, place them in the fridge and use first.

 

Thai Hot & Sweet Dipping Sauce.

Lots of garlic and hot pepper flakes!

Lots of garlic and hot pepper flakes!

I love to make homemade spring rolls (whether plain or deep fried) and this is the perfect sauce to dip them in! Just the right amount of heat, just the right amount of sweet.

Here’s the recipe:

Thai Hot & Sweet Dipping Sauce

Makes 8 half pints

1/2 cup finely chopped garlic
1 T. salt
6 cups cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
1/2 cup hot pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Combine the chopped garlic and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a stainless steel saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil.  After the vinegar comes to a boil add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove the vinegar from heat and stir in both the garlic mixture and the pepper flakes, stir to combine.
  4. Stirring frequently, ladle sauce into jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and add more liquid if needed.
  5. Wipe rims with clean cloth. Place lids and rings.
  6. Process for 15 minutes.