Monday, November 28, 2016

Bi-Annual Refrigerator Cleaning

I almost missed it!
I was finally home for a day so I could perform my odd little ritual.
Twice per year, I clean the refrigerator.
And I mean clean the refrigerator!
April and November are my fridge cleaning months.
I know it's not 6 months apart, but I have done this for so many years,
it just seems to be what works for me.
There are homes that always seem to look absolutely pristine.
Mine will probably never be one of those.
At any given time, we have this project or that here and there.
I do however try to keep it manageable and
 keep it from becoming a health hazard.
I should have done this before Thanksgiving - oh well.

First, open up the fridge and turn it off.
I bring an ice chest into the kitchen and place all the food from the refrigerator into it to keep it cool while I work.
I start with the main shelves.  
Once all the food is out, remove them and wash the 'box' of the fridge.
Then wash the shelves and replace them.
By shelves, I mean the crisper drawers too:)
You thought I would forget didn't you?
Once those are done, move on to the items on the door.
Remove it all in order to thoroughly wash each little shelf.
While doing this of course,
toss the hot mustard that expired 3 years ago,
the shriveled little carrot in the bottom of the crisper, and 
the mystery left-overs in the opaque plastic,
and any other items that might cause DEQ to come knocking on your door.
Before putting the food back in, I like to spritz it and wipe it all down
with vinegar water - just for good measure.
Then put food back in making sure jars aren't sticky and bottoms are clean.
Next, move on over to the freezer.  Do the same thing all over again.
While everything is out, look and wipe around the edges of the doors,
under the shelves, and in the seals. 
Again replace all the food tossing anything in question.
Turn the refrigerator back on and proceed to the outside.
I like to pull it away from the wall.
Vacuum the coils and the floor.
I know it doesn't look like it, but I just did this in April.
We are not complete slobs, it's just what accumulates under there.
I wash the outside of the fridge, the wall behind the fridge, 
and the floor under the fridge.
I then scoot the refrigerator back into place.
Lastly, I do the front and the handles.
Our refrigerator is old and has scratches and stains, but it works fine.
I dread the day it konks out.
By doing my part to keep it in good repair and operating properly,
I hope I can put that day off for as long as possible. 

This is actually a good time to do this since it makes that much more room
for all the holiday goodies yet to come.
Also, this weeks meal plan entails using up the items frozen in the freezer.
This freezer is for ice, chocolate, deserts, and left-overs.
Our meat and frozen veggies are in an upright out in the shop.
It's easy to forget the big tub of chili or stew in the freezer
so this is the perfect opportunity to clean the slate.

It might seem silly, but it makes me feel like the house is cleaner
after tackling projects like this.
Also, this is our food we're talking about.
I certainly want to keep it safe and healthy.

Hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

This just might be the most thorough housekeeping book ever.
I've become picky about which books I keep (due to space.)
This is one I keep.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hunting Elk, Finding Grace, Giving Thanks

Hello All,
The past week and a half - two weeks(ish) have been elk season around here.
Many vertical miles have been covered.
It has been unseasonably warm so the elk haven't bee pushed down by the snow yet.
That translates into us having to go find them in Tim-buk-tu.
I had a spike tag since we are just after the meat.
We did see some but nothing where we could actually get to them.
So once again, we are elkless.
I do feel blessed in that I got a bear and a buck.
Elk are just a little more elusive.
One nice thing was that it was 'away'.
Not away as in far from home.
We just drive up the road a ways, get out, and start climbing.
But away from the 'outside' world, the anger, the bashing, and the filth.
One of the days, I hunted alone since Mr. LB had to work.
It was the best therapy.
As I was hiking along, the song "How Great Thou Art" found its way to my head.
Why is it that when a song gets in my head, I know only the chorus 
and a partial line here and there?  Poor little brain.
Regardless, for the past week or so I've spent a lot of time conversing with God,
and this (partial) song has continued to pop into my head.
I kept thinking of looking up the lyrics but haven't had much of a chance.
Finally, a couple nights ago after supper, Mr. LB and I sat in where it was a little softer and where the fire is.
I finally got to pick up my stitching, and he browsed facebook on his phone.
He was laughing at something a friend posted.
Then he brought up something another friend had posted.  
It was a song.
Can you guess which song?
Oh yes, "How Great Thou Art" by HomeFree.
It's an amazing rendition.
I had never heard of them.  They won a TV contest at one point so I might be the only one who hadn't heard of them.
Here is "Ring of Fire" also - just because, well, Wow!
Needless to say, I'm thinking God is working on me.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year.
I love that families get together and give thanks, no gifts or gimmicks, 
just thanks.
Honestly, I was struggling a little with the tension of society this year.
We will be traveling to see family we haven't seen in many years
including my 93 year old grandmother.
(My last surviving grand-parent.)
I am so anxious and excited to see them but had some sort of reserve or trepidation about traveling.
When that song played on Mr. LB's phone, it all began to dissipate.
I know we will be fine on our travels,
and it's okay to enjoy the season and appreciate all the gifts we're given
with each dawning light.
He does work in mysterious ways.

I'd like to wish each of you a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

PS: The next day, I did something I haven't done in at least a year or two.
I went and splurged on the CD.
I have listened to that song numerous times in the last couple days.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Long Term Food Storage

Just in case some folks have not heard of it
or have been hesitant to try,
I would like to share a method we use to store food for long periods of time.
It is hot oven canning.
It really is a simple process.
I have oven-canned many things: 
beans, rice, flour, dehydrated veggies such as corn, green beans, celery, peas, carrots, onions, mushrooms, (the list could go on.)
From the information I have gathered, this method preserves dry foods
for 2 to 12 years.
It depends upon the source.
I have a friend who found a jar of dehydrated green beans that had evidently missed rotation and happened to be 7-8 years old.
She thought "Well, the worst that will happen is they will end up in compost."
She said they were fine.
As with any food storage, we use and rotate our stock.
If you've followed here for some time,
you are probably aware that we don't eat a lot of grains.
We do eat some though, and when we do, we don't want it to be stale.
So one of the items I oven can is rice.
I can put it in 1 meal size jars so we are not opening 
more than what we will use.

The process is quite easy.
Just gather clean dry jars and lids/rims of appropriate size and add the dry food.
Here I am showing rice.

Preheat the oven to "warm."
For my oven, this is about 175 degrees.
Place the uncovered filled jars on a baking sheet into the oven 
until the contents are an even temperature.
This is where there is some variance.
For these small jars of rice, it took about 40 min. since it is dense.
If I were doing small jars of green beans, it might only take 15-20 min.
The food item needs to reach the same temperature as the jar.
Also, the larger the jar, the longer it will take.
I have quart jars of dried beans.  I think they took just over an hour.

When the food item reaches the desired temperature,
remove only one jar at a time.
Lid each jar as you remove it from the oven - one at a time.
This is not difficult, but is important.
If  the whole tray is taken out of the oven, by the time the last jar is lidded,
the contents may be cool enough that the jar won't seal.
Allow the jars to completely cool before storing them.
As with canning any item, the lids will "ploink" indicating a proper seal.

Using this process, I am able to purchase a larger quantity and not have to purchase that item for a long time.
These small bags of rice were on a very good sale so small bags it was.


Disclaimer: I am sharing something we practice.  I am in no way responsible for the decisions you make.  Please, do your own research and make decisions you are comfortable with based on what you discover.