Monday, February 4, 2008

Canning Fish

I know, I know, it has been forever since I've posted, but I returned to work, (down to three jobs now!) and things just got pushed aside. Oh well, keep on walking, right?

Anyway, this last weekend I volunteered at our local Friendship Centre, and helped to host a Round Dance. For those of you who don't know, a Round Dance is a PowWow, but inside during the winter months. Also instead of Fancy Dancing, or Traditional, we hold hands and "snake" in a clockwise direction around the hand drummers in the middle of the circle. Hard to explain, but I hope you understand. Before the singing and dancing begins, we have a Pipe Ceremony and a feast. This year we served buffalo, moose meat stew, wild rice caserole, beef, rice, potaoes, vegetable, pickerel, pike, rice, hamburger soup, bannock, and more dainties and meat trays than I can recall! We started and 12 noon, and I finally made it home at 3am, it was a long, long day for me!

The whole day was great, but there was a sad note, our arena director's grandfather passed in the morning, so rather than 30 - 35 drummers, we had only 10. This is very understandable, and we pressed on. This also meant that we had over 20 lbs of fish that was thawed and would go to waste if something wasn't done. I decided that I would can the leftovers and save it for our next gathering.

I have canned fish for several years now, I can remember as a little girl going out to my grandmother's trapline and watching her can fish, but in the OVEN! A big no-no now, I use a pressure canner, which cuts the cooking time by over half! So much nicer. She would can jackfish, but I usually can suckers in the spring, so taking a leap of faith, and racking my memory, here is my recipe for canned jack.

Per quart jar

fish fillets, (no need to debone)
2T ketchup
1 1/2 T vinegar
2T cooking oil
1/2T coarse salt

Fill the jars with fish, leaving an inch headspace

Pour over ketchup, vinegar, oil and salt.

Place in canner, vent for ten minutes and then process for 110 minutes with the weight gently rocking.

Remove from heat, DO NOT remove weight or lid until canner has cooled.

Tada! All done! Take jars out and allow them to sit for 24 hours undisturbed.

I can sneak this in all recipes that call for salmon, I swear you cannot tell the difference! I have one son who "hates" fish, and he will eat this without complaint! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!! Good luck!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Canning, again!

Thankfully things went much better today. I didn't have to run to town, nothing broke down, and every jar sealed! Yeah!

Today I did pears, nectarines and plums. I love the pears, they smell so good while you're washing, pealing, coring, slicing, cooking, and eating!!

I still haven't found my smoker cord, so............. maybe tomorrow I will have to go and purchase another one!! This time I am getting one that is front loading and has a digital temperature control. Because I have to have electric or propane, I have no real control over the temp. With the digital I can just set it and not have to worry about it. I have only two more days to decide what's happening before my sausage is ready to go in. I love homemade sausage, and it's a great way to clean out the freezer before the menfolk go hunting.

Speaking of hunting, it has officially been decided that this weekend will be geese. Everyone is worried about freezer room, because you know they are all great hunters, lol. I'm only asking for 6 this year. They take up a lot of room, and you really have to watch them while they cook, and because I have to work, I don't enjoy cooking them on a weekday.

The big plan for tomorrow is baking. I now only have six days left before I return to work, so I have to have bread, desserts and snacks all in the freezer for the next month. For the bread I think I'll do flax. I have a wonderful recipe for 20 loaves at a time. I admit I make the loaves smaller than usual, but that's because my people sometimes are just so busy they don't have time to close the bread bag so that it stays fresh. I am also going to do cinnamon buns, zucchini loaves and banana chips. Oh, I almost forgot, I have to fit my three fruit marmalade in there somewhere, and my jerky I have marinading in the fridge, sigh, so much for a slow day. I usually like to bake because I have time in between, you know rising and baking, but maybe not now...........oh well, there's always the day after tomorrow, lol.

If I do have spare time, I am definitely going to study up on how to load up pictures.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Smoking, kind of!

Well, today I jumped out of bed, did all my housework in record time and got ready and waited for forever for the stores to open. When 9 o'clock finally hit I headed out to buy me some fresh chickens and hamburger, I was going to smoke some meat! I ran home with my purchases, still excited and unloaded the Jeep.

Now, if you've never smoked meat, it's certainly not complicated, but there is prep work. We choose to brine our chickens before smoking, and I like to make my brine earlier in the day, put it in the fridge and then let it get really cold before putting in the meat. Ok, so I make the brine, measure, check, measure, check, chill, perfect. Still thinking of my smoked chicken.

I figure I'm in the kitchen with a mess started, I might as well mix up the sauage meat. Ok, things are still going well, but then, no curing salt, bummer. I run back to town to buy curing salt, still going good. Get home, finish up my mixture, and start the waiting game.

About noon I figure I should put my chickens in the brine. Still exciting. Now I wait for DH to get home from work. We live in "town" and have some neighborhood hoodlums, so we have to keep the smoker locked up in the old shed, so he has to dig it out for me. Finally, he gets home and we go to get my handy little machine. Unfortunately, because of fire codes, we have to either use a propane or electric smoker now, no good old fashioned fire, which I am much more comfortable with. Propane is going to blow me up and electric is going to fry me, lol. Anyways, we did it out and guess what, we can't find the cord! We tear up the shed and the house, in case I put it away so that it didn't get "lost!" Can't find it anywhere.

I go back in the house defeated. What can you do with a brined chicken without a smoker? Certainly not throw it out, we never, ever waste food, it just goes against everything our family stands for. So, in desperation, I go on the internet and discover you can "smoke"on a barbeque. Ok, we don't have a smokebox, so I dig up an old egg cast iron fry pan, you know, a really small one, and use that as our smokebox! It worked alright, but we definitely prefer our smoker. Perhaps we didn't do it properly, but it didn't have the same flavour that we're used to, but still edible.

I am going to have to bake my sausage in the oven now. This would have thrown me for a loop a couple of weeks ago, but I saw Canadian Crafter had a recipe for sausage on her blog that she bakes in the oven, so I am saved even if we don't find the cord. Yeah!

Tomorrow will be a much better day, I am going to can pears and necterines. I plan on doing some cinnamon pears and lemon pears as well as some plain. Cinnamon pears are so pretty and seasonally appropriate for Christmas, they just taste so "cozy" warmed up with realy cream.

The boys are now mumbling about goose hunting. Monday is a holiday here, so they figure they can go on the weekend and get a few geese. I wonder what happened to the big elk trip, but there is still plenty of time for that, and the geese have been flying for about ten days now.I'm not saying too much because if they do go, I will need a new smoker for those birds. otherwise I will have to wait for freeze up to throw out nets to get fish, and I have smoked chicken in the brain now!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Things go on

Well, I missed a day already, but hey, we can't remember everything.

Yesterday and today were devoted to some more canning. Every year I get the itch to do it, but after a week or ten days, you start to wonder why? I know, because it's in the blood. I watched my mother do it, her mother do it, my dad's mom, her mom and my great grandmother do it. It can't be helped. Seeing how I only have boys, maybe I stopped this vicious cycle!

So, I have peach pie filling and apple pie filling, pineapple chunks, hot dog relish, orange marmalade, peach marmalade, peach jam, what else? Hard to keep track. Every year I say I am going to write it down, but every year I get in the groove and forget! Next year I will definitely write it down.

The men folk around here are itching too, not for canning, but for hunting season. Today was the start of elk season, a family fav, and we are still in town. Rightfully we should be out in the bush, but we're waiting on the mail. My youngest is now 12, so as soon as he gets his harvester card, he can go out with the big boys. Oh, a harvester card is issued to metis people who can provide the Manitoba Metis Federation with a genealogy proving their ties to the Metis homeland. This gives them the right to hunt, fish and harvest with almost the same rights as status Indians, or First Nations. Very exciting for my little hunter!

Next week school begins here, that means there's very little time before I go back to work. We still have to go and get wood for the winter. Luckily, we are surrounded by bush and should be able to find lots of already dry wood. We're so far behind this year because we finally built a wood shed. That's right, no more trudging through waist deep snow and shovelling off the wood before you bring it in. I'm not young anymore, and my boys will eventually leave me and then I will have to haul it in myself full time, eww. The shed will make things so much easier for me.

Oh, very exciting, my boys were on Videojug, and found out that you can hook your iPod to your tv and watch the movies. This is great, there's movies on there that I would really like to see, but I just can't see myself sitting that long with earphones staring at that teeny little screen. Tonight I am planning on watching a movie with my knitting. It's mitt season already, and being boys we go through a lot.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Beginning

Ok, so I have been lurking and reading blogs for awhile now, and have finally decided to take the plunge! I am going to blog! This is very exciting for me!

I guess I am going to credit this to Canadian Crafter. I have read the entire blog and really enjoyed it, so I decided why not.

To start, I'll tell you what I did today, I canned, and canned and canned! First thing I did was put up the "It counts as a vegetable relish" This is a wonderful concoction of cabbage, cucumbers, onions, green tomatoes, green and red peppers! I have three teenage boys who believe "vegetables" is a dirty word, and they will slurp this down like they won't get to eat again! The sad part is that you start out with a ten gallon crock 60 per cent full, and end up with only 12 quarts!

The next thing I did was my pickled beets! Yum, I tried two different recipes this year and cannot wait to eat them. After I cleaned up the burgundy coloured counter, burgundy coloured cabinets, burgundy coloured floors, etc, I started on the dreaded mustard bean pickles! Way messier than the beets. Mustard pickles remind me of my grandmother in Nova Scotia, she used to make a baked ham, baked beans and serve them with mustard beans and home made brown bread with real butter! OMG, I think I just gained ten pounds thinking about it!

After cleaning the yellow counters, yellow cabinets, (you get the idea, lol) I moved on to sweet pickle relish! I can eat this just with a spoon! Who needs the hot dog? Thankfully, this is not nearly as messy as my earlier projects.

Then I finally made it to the pickled beans and pickled carrots! This year I got smart, I filled my french fry maker, you know the gadget that cuts potatoes into fry shapes, with carrots instead of cutting all those carrots into sticks! Much easier, now I just have to wait six weeks for them to be ready.

This was a lot of work, but in the middle of winter when we open up one of those jars and are able to enjoy our harvest, it will all be worth it!