Jar Variety

The batch of jars from a recent estate auction contained some interesting variations in size and shape. Several were the basic half-pint jelly jar size and design. Some were different.

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Milk bottle, perhaps?

Old fashioned lid - slightly odd shape

Old fashioned lid – slightly odd shape

Some had the word “freezer” embossed on them. Most were Ball; a few said Kerr. Two or three lids, the solid gray lids – does anyone know what they’re made of? I’ve seen lamps and hanging lights made from jars with this type of lid, so I’m not quite ready to throw them away.

For now, I’m sorting and storing those that are clean and suitable for food storage. The others might become…well, who knows? It’s all part of the fun of finding and procuring and using old jars.

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Fun with Canning Jars

The project started like this.

Jars from estate auction

Jars from estate auction

Then we gave the dishwasher a try.

They all fit!

They all fit!

Almost all came out clean. Those that didn’t, well, I might scrub or soak them, or I might just use them for something other than food preservation.

Then we visited one of my favorite vintage and antique stores. I saw all kinds of ways to use canning jars – other than canning.

What is the candle sitting in? More wax?

What is the candle sitting in? More wax? I have marbles. I could do the one on the left.

Simple. Clean them up, surround them with greenery.

Simple. Clean them up, surround them with greenery.

And people are charging amazing amounts of money for these. To give you an idea, the two blue jars surrounded by pretty green decorative wreaths were priced at about the same amount of money that I paid for the entire table full (see top of post).

I can do this. The only question is – will I do it? Will I make the time to do it?

Stay tuned, readers. Daisy has a project in mind.

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Inventory

Wow.

Wow.

Top shelf, left to right: salsa; jams and jellies galore.

Lower shelf, left to right: applesauces (in at least three variations); juice concentrates; pickles, dill and sweet.

Expanding to a second set of shelves

Expanding to a second set of shelves

Bottom shelf: canning pots and a pretty blue aluminum stock pot.

Middle shelf: tomatoes; more tomatoes; enchilada sauce; tiny jars of jellies and jams, perfect for gift giving.

Top shelf: apple preserves (a.k.a. pie filling), more applesauce, and pear sauce.

Highest shelf: old laptop computers. This will eventually (hopefully) get cleared off and ready for more canned goods. Next year. Maybe.

This used to house small containers.

This used to house small containers.

Now it’s tomato sauce, tomato sauce, and more tomato sauce.

But where did I put the awkward and odd shaped small containers?

In my older, worn canner and a spare I picked up thrifting.

In my older, worn canner and a spare I picked up at a thrift store.

There you have it, folks. Storage, Daisy style. One problem: I don’t have room for the empty jars. Not that many jars are empty at the moment.

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The Search for the Perfect Pot

Stock pot, that is. For cooking. And canning. You didn’t think I was aiming my gardening talents in a new direction, did you?

I have an ordinary kitchen stock pot. It’s a good size, heats up evenly, and cleans fairly well, too. BUT – the nonstick coating is wearing through. I don’t really know what the coating is or was, whether it’s toxic or fine, just fine. I’ve made many, many jams and jellies in it. Now that the underlying material is showing, I don’t know if it’s safe for canning anymore. So let’s look at the rest of my stock (pun intended) in the basement.

To the right of my hot water bath canners...

To the right of my hot water bath canners are two other pots.

The one in front, next to the bright blue, heats quickly: too quickly. It allows applesauce or pear sauce to burn to the bottom of it before the mix boils down, and that’s not a good trait. It may be aluminum, too, which would take it out of the “non-reactive” category most canning requires. Lovely though it is, this pot might go to the thrift store with the next donation batch.

I found the bright blue in a second hand store. It heats quickly and evenly. It has thick sides that keep the heat in, and I haven’t burned anything in it – yet. BUT – this lovely stock pot has a few weaknesses, too. The handles heat up, which means hot pads on both hands whether I’m stirring or lifting or dumping. It’s nonmagnetic (except for the handles), meaning it’s most likely aluminum, too. #*@&!

I won’t even analyze the cast iron Dutch oven. We love it, but it’s heavy and it can be difficult to clean. I season it every time I use it, hoping the cast iron will eventually have just the right coating. Cast iron, like aluminum, is also reactive.

So, my friends, there you have it. The search, so far unsuccessful, for the perfect stock pot. When I find the perfect match, I’ll use it for jams, jellies, butters (not you, Buttercup, so be quiet), pickles, salsas, and more.

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Lots of Crocks – the results After

I have a 3 gallon Redwing stoneware crock that I bought at an antique mall. I also found a very large (6 gallon, I estimate) that had a huge crack in it. I caulked the crack in the crock, and then set it aside. I plan to plant in both crocks. You can see the #3 at the back of the table.

 

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

Here’s the “before” picture outside on the deck in better light.

Here they are in the sunshine.

Here they are in the sunshine. Some are in better shape than others.

And now, the “After” picture. I was pleasantly surprised with the condition after cleaning. Most were just dirty, not damaged.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Readers, I’m thinking of planting chives in the #2, and maybe succulents in the cheese and butter crocks. What do you think?

 

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Crocks for Planting: The Auction Chapter

I have a 3 gallon Redwing stoneware crock that I bought at an antique mall. I also found a very large (6 gallon, I estimate) that had a huge crack in it. I caulked the crack in the crock, and then set it aside. I plan to plant in both crocks.

I lost out on a few crocks in online auctions, and I was bummed. Then I saw a generic label of “Lots of Crocks” in another auction. On closer examination, I recognized that one was a 2 gallon Redwing crock, dirty and possibly cracked. The others might or might not be good enough to use as planters along with those I already had, but it was worth a try.

Yesterday I brought them home.

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

the five new pieces in front of the 3 qt in back

You can’t get a good look at them in the dark garage, so I moved them outside for some natural light.

Here they are in the sunshine.

Here they are in the sunshine. Some are in better shape than others.

Kaukauna Cheese!

Kaukauna Cheese!

Did it cost one dollar and 59 cents, or one and 59/100 of a penny?

Did it cost one dollar and 59 cents, or one and 59/100 of a penny?

Butter from Sheboygan; and a lot of stain or rust.

Butter from Sheboygan; and a lot of stain or rust.

And finally, the crock that led me to bid on this lot.

And finally, the crock that led me to bid on this lot.

My plan: with baking soda and salt, perhaps a vinegar/water rinse, and a lot of bow grease, I’ll see how these pretty little crocks clean up. Then I’ll decide what to plant in each one. Chives might do well in the #3.

What do you think, readers? Do you think these crocks have a future? Do you have advice for cleaning them?

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Fun with Planters

Folks who’ve been reading me for a while might remember that I had a papasan turned planter in my front yard. I now have a new-to-me papasan and a few more goodies.

Fun with flowers!

Fun with flowers!

On the table: a few herbs and an experiment: hula berries.

On the ground: purple hued grasses, hopefully due to grow taller. In front, the puppy with geraniums in place of doggie dishes. The puppy (a thrift store fun find) has faded in the years I’ve had him/her in the rock garden, but it’s always fun to find a pot or two to display in the pup. The other pot on the ground is actually a wooden bucket surrounded with what looks like bamboo or rattan. I picked it up at a rummage sale and thought it might look good next to the papasan. The table, with its rattan trim, came from the same sale.

I think this scene, so to speak, will evolve as the plants grow. I’ll share, I promise!

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Election on the way: Paranoia Sets In

Maybe it’s Trump. Maybe it’s the dystopian novels I read so often. My inner paranoid streak or doomsday prepper is begging to get out and take action.

Here’s an example. Trump claimed today that if he carries Wisconsin in the primary, he’ll go to a Packer game in the fall. Does he have any idea how hard it is to get tickets? Or how long the waiting list is for season tickets? Never mind. Don’t answer that.

Our primary election is next week Tuesday. The airwaves are full of campaign ads. The one that makes me slap my forehead and shout “Doh!” is Ted Cruz’ commercial that announces he is the only one who can beat Trump. “Do the math!” the announcer demands while showing a bar graph. Frankly,  the best candidate to beat Donny Boy isn’t on the same primary ticket. Do the math? Someone forgot a variable.

I spent a bundle to restock our medicine cabinet with supplies for spring allergy season. It was costly. It would be more costly if I hadn’t stocked up and had needed a last-minute run to the store. By planning ahead, I was able to use two coupons and buy generic store brands. When all the allergic folks start breaking out in sneezes and wheezes, the shelves will be empty except for the expensive varieties.

I’ve used up the corn in the freezer. If we want corn, we’ll have to buy it from the store. We have one container of peas left, and several of beans (green and yellow). We salvaged the last two squash from the basement and noted that next year we need to cook them sooner, not later. I guess the vegetable of choice for the time being will be beans. As the summer arrives, I’ll put up more corn, an equal amount of peas, and beans? Let me think about it.

Meanwhile, I’m hearing about schools getting budgets zapped, stripped to the bone. Layoffs are rampant. My job is fairly secure, at least for the time being. I just did a promo for open enrollment a few days ago. Maybe it’ll help keep our enrollment up.

But when I go in to vote on Tuesday, I’ll have all of these issues on my mind – and more. All politics may be local, and it’s also personal. Very personal. Do I need to stock up on toilet paper? Build a chicken coop? Hide my retirement fund in a mattress?

Readers, help me silence my inner doomsday siren. Promise me you’ll do the most important prep of all: you’ll vote.

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Shopping: It’s a learning experience.

  • Today while shopping with La Petite, I learned —
  • Lancome has a line of cosmetics with Braille labels.
  • A woman can never have too many shoes.
  • Malls are still — well, malls.
  • I’m wearing the wrong size bra (no, you don’t need any more).
  • Jeans are just as hard for La Petite to find as they are for me, several sizes larger.
  • I’m still an amazing bargain shopper. Even the cashier was impressed.
  • Peanut noodles are delicious. I wonder if I could make this dish?
  • Fortune cookies can be ridiculous. Hallelujah? Really?

I followed up a day of shopping with leftovers for supper and a marathon of Tiny House shows. It was a nice, relaxing weekend, despite losing an hour’s sleep to Daylight Saving Time.

Readers, do you enjoy retail therapy? Leave a comment.

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Slow Cooking Streak at the O.K. Chorale

I didn’t cook in my slow cooker every day for a full year, but I did use it a lot leading up to and following Christmas. Tuesday saw bean soup with ham for supper. Thursday we had a classic – crock pot chili. Saturday night’s supper had a side dish of acorn squash cooked in the medium slow cooker. Sunday morning I experimented with overnight oatmeal, and Monday I tried out a breakfast bake for supper.

No wonder I’ve worn out almost every slow cooker I’ve owned.

The first lost the outer shell, the housing that provides heating element. One of its three feet broke off. After we threw away the broken parts, I tried planting herbs or flowers in the crock itself, but we couldn’t put holes in it for drainage (those crocks are tough).

My second slow cooker lost not a foot, but a handle. I managed to use it very carefully for a little while, but eventually the outside was so worn I couldn’t even repair it with super glue. This slow cooker bit the dust as well. Confession: the blue crock from this one is still in the basement. It’s so pretty, I feel certain there will be a way to reuse it.

The replacement for those two is still cooking – it made chili Christmas Eve. It’s wearing out, though, from the inside this time. I estimate I use either the large 6 quart crock or its 4 quart counterpart at least once a week. During tomato season, I can have several going all at once to simmer the fresh tomatoes down into a thick and delicious sauce.

I’m considering Project Slow Cooker as a 2016 project. I own five (six, if you count the little dipper) in different sizes because we use them often in our busy lives. Once a week is normal. An increase to two or three times a week would be realistic. Aha, I think I’ve found a New Year’s resolution that is an attainable goal!

Look for highlights of Project Slow Cooker here at Compost Happens. Now, readers. Do you take on new projects as the calendar changes to a new year? Share your inspiration in the comments.

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