Friday, September 28, 2012

Indiana Persimmon Butter

This year in South Central Indiana, the persimmons are early and ready for making Persimmon Butter, just as it has seemed  everything has been  a month early.  The weather was the hottest in June and July (over 100 most days), gardens that were planted earlier than usual were the only ones that did well, and now the persimmons are ripe and falling in September rather than October.

While all over the country various crops have been total failures this year, the Persimmon crop in South Central Indiana appears to be a very good one!  Persimmons are abundant right now.  It is time to gather and put up for winter use.  Many people run them through a sieve and freeze the pulp for use later in cookies, puddings, cakes, breads and various recipes.  Another way of putting them up is to make Persimmon Butter and can it in canning jars or freeze the butter.  With the abundance of persimmons this year, perhaps putting them up both ways is the way to go.

I didn't have a recipe for Persimmon Butter, but I had tasted some a friend of mine made last year and it was delicious.  So I set out to try to recreate the flavor and consistency of hers.  She doesn't use recipes but rather just throws a little of this and a pinch of that and maybe a dab of something else together and ends up with some great dishes!  Anyway, I didn't come out with the exact flavor of hers, but I did come up with one that I really like and my family really likes.

Persimmon Butter
 8 Cups Persimmon pulp
1 1/2 Tablespoons baking soda (1/2 tsp per cup of pulp is a good way to figure this)
1 Lemon, juiced or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C brown sugar
3 C white sugar

Place persimmon pulp in slow cooker crock pot (5 quart size) and pour the lemon juice over the pulp.  Cook on high for half an hour.  Add sugars, spices and baking soda.  Cook on low ( if your crock pot has a setting for hours set it for the 6 to 8 hours) uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking for 2 hours.  Butter will thicken as it cooks.  

Place butter in blender and puree after cooking.  Pack hot into sterilized canning jars.  Place hot sterilized rings and lids on jars tightly and invert the jars for 1/2 hour.  Turn jars right side up and allow to cool.  Jars will seal as they cool and will make a popping sound as they seal.  Place the sealed jars in a refrigerator or cool dark place for storage.  Will make about 4 pints.

Note:  The baking soda will cause foaming when added and cooking.  The foam will disappear and the butter will turn a dark, deep, rich red in color.  (mine turns almost black by the time it is done, depending on how much cloves and/or cinnamon you have added)

The butter should be able to stand up on a plate without separating and be about the consistency of apple butter. 

This Persimmon Butter makes a great gift at holiday and seasonal parties.  I often make up baskets or boxes of various jellies, jams and butters I have made and give as gifts.

Hope you enjoy! 

Just Me - Granny D  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wild Game Food Source Endangered!

As we approach fall hunting seasons, we are learning the wild game food source many depend upon for winter is endangered.  Many deer reportedly have a deer virus and are sick, dying and possibly won't be available to hunt this year.  Add to that the facts of anthrax killing the cattle in Colorado and Swine Flu hitting the hogs and pigs in Indiana within the past month, it is very possible that many people who normally have a freezer of food for the winter will instead be visiting food pantries and soup kitchens.

North Carolina was the first state to report the deer virus was killing off their deer population.  Yesterday the same news came from the Chicago area of Illinois.  Hundreds of deer have been found dead!

Chicago Deer Dying From EHD

Deer Virus Spreads In North Carolina

If you are a deer hunter who plans on a deer or two in your freezer for the winter, this year may present some problems.  Both links above contain information on where the virus is,  where it is expected to spread, and what it looks like in the deer.  However, just as weather forecasters don't always know exactly where a storm will hit or when, remember these forecasters of where the virus may show up aren't always exact either.  That could be bad, or that could be good, depending on your location.

It is definite that an alternative source of food - meat, protein, veggies, fruit, dairy, etc.  is going to be necessary this year.   Droughts, wildfires, excessively high temperatures, now Hurricane Issac and floods have all contributed to bring about horrific growing conditions for farmers and backyard gardeners alike. Vegetarians may find their selves in a situation much like the meat lovers.  High prices, decreased availability, total lack of supply will result in whatever is available!  Probably won't be corn, lettuce, beans, peppers, tomatoes - and word out of Indiana today is that it won't be apples!  It is being reported this is the worst year for apples in 80 year history!!!

Food is going to be scarce and expensive this winter.  Get prepared now!  Check and see what the conditions are for the game in your area that you hunt.  What is the condition of the fish in your locale?  Are they full of mercury, oil, pcbs or have worms and lesions?  Many reportedly are unedible now.

Are there types of food that are in abundance in your area that you can put up for the winter?  What about foraging for items which grow naturally, have you taken advantage of that?  Do you know how to make fresh wildflower honey, dandelion jelly, persimmon preserves, mixed fresh wild greens, or prepare any of the various available wild foods?  Is your pantry full of canned items for the winter and your freezer filling up?  If not, you need to start now in order to save money and be able to eat, not starve.

Special recommendation is if you use corn meal, corn starch, corn flakes, anything with corn in it, then you should stock up now.  Corn was a disaster in itself this summer - corn fields were cut and baled to use to feed livestock this upcoming winter due to high prices of feed and hay,  plus the corn didn't make.  Many farmers sold off their livestock this summer due to the high cost of feed, hay and the desolation of corn crops.  Beef cattle and dairy cattle alike were sold off everywhere - that will be evident in the next several months in the supermarkets.

With the wild game food sources becoming endangered, the beef, pork and chicken industries threatened and suffering, the seafood and fish being contaminated, the produce and fruit being scarce, and dairy suffering from farmers selling out, this winter could bring about one of the most expensive and bleakest seasons for trying to feed the hungry in recent history.  Prepare now, eat well this upcoming season, and enjoy!

Just Me - Granny D

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fall Gardening Necessary This Year!!

After a summer which brought record heat, droughts, wild fires and other disasters for gardens and crops, fall gardening is necessary this year!  Hopefully Autumn will usher in cooler temps and some rain for the parched land.  Farmers and plot gardeners as well as container gardeners alike are looking to the fall for the possibility of raising crops to stave off starvation and enormously high food bills this coming winter.

It is too late for corn!  If anyone thinks they really need corn or corn meal for the winter, then my advice to them is to get it now and to get enough to last!  Corn crops all across the country have been decimated, burnt, dried up and many have been baled to feed to live stock this winter since the hay didn't make either.  This has resulted in raising food prices, sales of dairy and cattle farms (can't afford the feed to continue) and is contributing to the rising cost of gasoline at the pump as the gas contains ethanol which is a corn product.

Corn and hay were not the only crops affected by the adverse weather this summer.  Gardens dried up, didn't produce or produced miniscule amounts.  Farmers' Markets found the abundance of veggies to be sold at market was not available this year.  Many markets were unable to offer items such as green beans, fresh lettuce, corn on the cob, slicing tomatoes, and other items.  A trip to the market in my locale gave me the option to purchase jellies, candles, indoor plants and herbs, fresh honey and syrups and a few stands offered some cucumbers and peaches.  I was hoping for Pawpaws, black raspberries, green beans, fresh green onions and garlic!

With little from the market and even less from my parched summer garden, I have decided it is necessary to plant that fall garden - even though I try to be done with gardening, canning, freezing, etc., in time to get ready for hunting season and time to put up meat for the winter, this year I am going to be doing both at the same time!  Hopefully!!!  Otherwise, who knows what we will eat this winter?!  I know I can't afford food prices now and the forecast is bleak to say the least on when that is going to change!

The fall garden can contain many items.  I purpose to plant lettuce, cabbage, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, green beans, green onions and peas.  I am still hoping my tomato and pepper plants will straighten up with the cooler, wetter weather and produce some more tomatoes and peppers!  Of course, with fall gardens it is hard to predict if you are going to have a long enough growing season for some items.  The way this year is going, it will be my luck that winter will arrive early and snow by the end of September!!!  I don't really think so, and I am counting on good weather lasting through October so my fall garden can produce as much as possible in a short time period. 

Besides planting outside, I am also starting new herb plants in my kitchen to grow over winter to have fresh herbs.  I love the smell and the flavor of sweet basil.  It helps keep the kitchen and house smelling so good all the time when it is growing in the kitchen!  Peppermint is another favorite of mine for growing indoors for a delightful fragrant aroma and is good for so many things.  Peppermint tea is great for stomach aches and acid reflux or indigestion.  There are many different herbs that grow well indoors and have many uses besides just flavoring.

Have a great fall garden!  Wishing everyone mild temps, sunshiny days with rainy nights - not storms either, just good gently rains for the gardens, and a prosperous healthy winter!!!

Just Me - Granny D

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bread and Butter Pickles

 I made these two days ago!  Should be really good about Thanksgiving and Christmas time!


4 qts sliced cucumbers 
1/2 cup salt
2 qts sliced onions
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
1 tbsp. celery seeds
2 tbsp. mustard seeds
1 tbsp. ginger
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. tabasco sauce or Frank's redhot sauce
ice cubes

Stir salt into thinly sliced cucumbers.  Cover with ice cubes; let stand 2-3 hours or until cucumbers are cold and crispy.  Add more ice if it melts.  Drain; add onions.  (I add my onions before I add the ice and let the ice set on the mixed cucumber and onion slices.  I also sometimes add slices of sweet red peppers.)

Combine remaining ingredients; bring quickly to a boil and boil about 10 minutes.

Add cucumber and onion slices and bring back to a full boiling point.  Pack at once in hot jars.  Process in boiling water bath (212 degrees F.) 30 minutes.

Remove from canner and complete seals unless closures self-seal.  Makes 8 pints.

ENJOY!!!  These are sweet and spicy, while most bread and butter pickles don't have the spice.  It is optional to add the tabasco, white pepper and paprika.  If you leave these ingredients out, they will be good sweet bread and butter pickles without the added spice!  I make them both ways every year.

Just Me - Granny D

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spring is Springing!! Birds are Singing! Frogs are Croaking!

Spring is springing and I love it!  Walk out the door early mornings to walk my dogs and the birds are singing!  Out by the pond the frogs are croaking!  Watching for signs of the berry bushes to start turning and for the dandelions to start blooming.  Dandelion Wine, Fried Dandelion Tops, Fresh Dandelion Greens, Dandelion Jelly and Jam are coming to mind!

Red Bud Jelly is another Spring treat that comes to mind with Red Bud and Clover Cookies!  Spring Recipes are sprouting in my head as Spring plants are sprouting outdoors.  Really can't wait for mushroom season to get here!  Stay tuned, I will be posting new recipes all this next week for Spring treats and delights.  If you have any specific type recipes you are interested in, post a comment and I will see what I can do about getting some posted or a link to where you can find some - maybe both!  Main point - Enjoy Spring - Eat natural and healthy - eat what's in season - know what's in season - Enjoy!

 Just Me - Granny D

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Deer Chili - One of Winter's Warm and Wild Recipes

Winter is setting in and it's time to use some of those canned veggies, frozen meats and food stocked up for the colder season and make some of winter's warm and wild recipes like a big pot of Deer Chili, rabbit stew or bar-b-q squirrel.  Let's not forget it's the perfect time to enjoy a cup of hot mullied apple cider, eggnog or hot peppermint tea.

I made a big pot of Deer Chili last week when the temperature was dropping and everything icy cold outside.  Lit the fireplace, kicked back on the sofa, covered up with an afghan, got out my laptop and enjoyed smelling the rich aroma of Deer Chili slowly cooking in my crock-pot.  Perfect winter-warm and wild game recipe to warm up with.

I was using whatever I had in my cabinets and refrigerator to make my chili - didn't want to drive the 15 miles to the supermarket in the cold so I decided to make do, substitute, etc with what I had and end goal being a pot of Deer Chili.  It turned out delicious - so here is how I made it.


2 pounds of deer meat (either ground or in small bite-size chunks as for stew meat)
1 large onion`(chopped)
clove garlic (chopped)
2 quarts canned tomatoes with juice (cut up)
2 or 3 cans beans (chili beans best but can use any kind of beans)
1/2 cup chopped mixed peppers (I use my frozen chopped peppers from my garden)
2 chopped medium jalapenos (red or green either one or use both)
black pepper
red pepper
chili pepper
chili powder
1 can coca-cola (for a sweeter taste use dr. pepper)

Brown the 2 pounds of deer meat, 1/2 of the large onion, 1/2 of the garlic and 1/4 cup of mixed peppers in a large cast iron skillet.  While browning, add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 tsp red pepper, 1/2 tsp chili pepper, 1/4 tsp paprika and 1/4 tsp cumin to the meat mixture.  
Once browned thoroughly, strain all liquid from the meat mixture.

In a large crock-pot or slow-cooker, mix 1 can coca-cola, 2 quarts of cut up canned tomatoes with juice, beans, remaining onions, garlic, mixed peppers, 1 tbsp chili powder, and meat mixture.  Set for 6 hours.  If liquid in pot doesn't cover the other ingredients, add water or tomatoe juice unti it does just cover the meat and beans.  

After 4 hours of cooking, add 2 chopped medium jalapenos (if you like hot chili!!), 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili pepper, and make sure liquid still covers meat and beans cooking. 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top, cheddar shredded on top or with just crackers or bread and butter.  

Enjoy!  This isn't the recipe I usually follow, but it was what I had in my cabinets - I think I will start using it more often though, it really smelt good all day and didn't disappoint me when I served it for dinner.  This Deer Chili recipe definitely has to classified as winter warm and wild game recipe that will warm your insides right up and satisfy those taste buds at the same time!!

Just Me - Granny D