Friday, August 27, 2010

My First Canning Adventure

I remember my mom and grandma canning batch after batch of tomatoes. Enough tomatoes to last a lifetime, it seemed. And jams. And who knows what else. I've always wanted to do it, but after being food safety certified and listening to several canning horror stories from educators at UW Extension I was a bit paranoid.

Then, canning became cool. It was everywhere. Target, blogs, newspapers, etc. One of my favorite blogs, by the way, is Food in Jars. Check it out if you have any interest in canning. I got a bit more confident after reading more and more.

I drug my son with me and we picked 3 pints of raspberries at Blue Skies Farm. We had beautiful weather, yummy fruit and a great time. If you are local, visit Blue Skies. They are great and their farm is organic. Awesome!

I decided to turn this


into some jam.

The recipe I use for raspberry peach jam (yum!) came from this blog, Fiber Fool. (Thanks!)

So, I went from the berries (and peaches) to this:


Yeah!! Sorry for the bad pic, but all I had was my phone. Anyway, success! I took the jam out and heard the jars pop right away--sweet sound of success. I let them sit for the recommended 24 hours and then noticed that there was some condensation on the top of the lid inside the jar. What?!? Anyone reading? Do you have any ideas on why that happened? I ended up opening them all and freezing. That was sad, but I think I'll still try again.

A couple of the things I love

I took this week off as sort of a "staycation". Originally, I had planned to get some stuff done around the house. Um, yeah. That went out the window by Tuesday morning. That's OK though--it can wait. My soul feels refreshed in a way it hasn't in a very, very, very long time. (We had some really rough patches in life a few years ago). Ah.

A couple of the things I love, in no particular order.

I honestly, don't think summer needs any explanation. Let me know if you need for me to list the 1,987 reasons why it rocks.

Pandora Radio
At first, I didn't get the hype. At all. I have well rounded musical taste, as I like to call it--including rock, classic rock, country, jazz, hip hop, alternative, folk, grunge, etc. I tried plugging in Dave Matthews Band, Dixie Chicks, Charles Mingus and AC/DC into one station. Yeah, totally confused Pandora. But, but, then I got the hang of it. I now have about 12 stations (and adding) and love it! My newest thing? I discovered quickmix--mixes stuff from all my stations! love!

I'll post more favorites another time. What are you favorites??

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mini Milk Showdown

I always love reading the blind-taste testing that bloggers/news/etc. do.

My mini milk showdown only consists of two types of milk. Honestly, I really didn't want to spend the money to review non-organic or store brand milk.


Milk #1
Sassy Cow Lowfat Organic Milk
Sassy Cow
is a relatively new creamery. They are local (to me), located in Columbus, WI, and it is a family operation, which I love. I do heart family farms.

Cornucopia Institute rates them a 5 out of 5.

Milk #2
Organic Valley Lowfat Organic Milk
I think most people are familiar with Organic Valley. Headquartered in LaFarge, WI, the coop is the largest organic milk provider in the US. While they are comprised of family farmers (again, I heart family farmers), they are sort of seen as "the big guys".

The milk I sampled is the ultra-pasteurized version. A drawback of this kind (aside from it being ultra-pasteurized) is that you aren't exactly sure where the milk came from. It could be from any of their family farmers throughout the country. That said, you can purchase the pasteurized Heartland Pastures milk, which has not been ultra-pasteurized AND gives you a little bit more knowledge about where it came from. (I would have chose the Heartland Pastures kind, but they were out).

The Cornucopia Institute gives Organic Valley 4 cows out of 5.

So, which did I prefer?


The winner is.... Organic Valley! It tastes just like milk should taste and I love it's creamy flavor. I appreciate that it does not come in plastic (although the gallons do).

The Sassy Cow is still a very good milk--as noted by the 5 cow rating from Cornucopia--but not as creamy. I also think the plastic isn't the best choice, either.

Thanks for reading my mini milk showdown! What milk do you prefer?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Local Is Better

We had an awesome dinner tonight. We stocked up at the farmer's market yesterday, so we were set.

We made steak fajitas with Jordandal Farm's grass-fed steak, Driftless Organics' onions, as well as sweet corn, peppers and chard from the market. Washed it down with a glass of Organic Valley milk and all was good.

I love local food and can't wait until our tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and cucumbers are ready.

If you are interested in eating more local food, join me in the Eat Local Challenge at Willy St. Co-op.