Blast From the Past: Canning Beans

A short time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a little red headed blogger got in WAY over her head with a self hosted blog and one day–POOF–it refused to publish or save any more posts.  Even her techno savvy friends and family members (hi, Dad!) couldn’t save her beloved blog.  Sadly, the girl (who loves to write, but is only minimally techno savvy, by the way) restarted her blog on WordPress (but not the self hosted kind).  But, hating to lose her previous 800+ posts that wouldn’t be seen, she came up with a brilliant idea (!) to institute a feature to bring back some of her older posts that she wanted to keep or thought were good.  Hence the new feature:  Blast From The Past!

So, if you have followed my blog in that other, sadder blogosphere, you have probably already seen this one.  But, you might like it even more now…  Hey, you never know!

So, from January 23rd, 2013….

Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, dried beans, mixed beans, legumes, healthy food, frugal life

Hubby and I love beans.  Pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, we will eat them all.  The boys don’t always share our legume love, but younger one does enjoy a nice, warm pot of 15 bean soup from time to time.  I guess he likes all of his beans at once!

Cooking beans can take quite a while, but when I have a chance, I like to can them up in quart or pint jars to use later.  It’s easily as convenient as opening a can of beans that has been purchased at the store, but cheaper and I like to know exactly what is in them.  In my case, they contain only beans, salt, water and sometimes a bit of cooked ham or bacon to add flavor.  That’s all.

Pressure canning dried beans is really simple as long as you always, always, always pay attention to the canner and follow the established safety standards.  You just wouldn’t want to take any shortcuts with your family’s health!  So, get a recent copy (in the last 3-5 years or so) of a reputable canning guide (the Ball Blue Book is a good choice) so that you will know the proper times and pressures for safe pressure canning.  And, always double check your information before you begin!

I was scared silly at the thought of blowing up a pressure canner until I did some research and realized that not only was it something I could do, but it opened up loads of options for food preservation for my family.  But, make no mistake, you cannot can low-acid foods with a water bath canner.  It’s not safe and could make your family very ill.  Pressure canning is the only way to go here.

The first time I canned dried beans, I cleaned and picked through them well and then brought them to a boil in a large pot with plenty of water.  I let them boil for exactly one hour to have them swell and absorb water but not be completely cooked.  I ladeled them into clean jars, topped off (with 1 inch head space) with cooking water, wiped the rims on the jars, added lids and processed according to the directions that came with my canner.  It seemed simple enough at the time.

We enjoyed those beans a great deal.  We made homemade bean dips, ate beans and cornbread, had veggie nights, and even made homemade authentic refried beans.  Yum!

But, could there possibly be an even easier way?  Turns out, the answer is YES!Another Hatchett Job blog, canned beans, canning, black beans, frugal life, canning jars, creative commons attribution

This time, I will pick over and clean the beans well and then measure out 1/2 cup of the uncooked beans for pint jars and 1 cup of beans for the quart jars.  I will add 1 tsp salt to each quart and half that amount to the pints (any spices are fine and they don’t affect your processing times or pressures).  After topping off with freshly boiled water, leaving 1 inch of headspace, I will process them.

I live at just about 800 feet in elevation, so I can use the basic canning rules.  If you live at a higher elevation, you must adjust your times and/or pressures accordingly.  You can use Google to find that information.  I typed in “elevation” and my city and state.  I checked a couple of sites for accuracy and am now quite confident that I know.  If you need to make an adjustment, any good canning book will have a simple chart to use.  It’s just another one of those good reasons to have one for reference.

My quarts have to process at 10 lbs. pressure for 90 minutes.  My pints use the same pressure, but only 75 minutes.  If, by chance, you are processing a canner load that contains both pints and quarts, use the longer times needed for the quart jars.  Better safe than sorry!

By following these rules, I am assured that my foods will preserve and maintain their nutrition and quality for several years.  Healthy foods at the best possible prices is worth a bit of kitchen time to me!

As for loading and operating the canner, please refer to the instructions given in your canner instruction manual, canning reference books, or by a noted author.  I am rather fond of articles and books written by Jackie Clay, columnist for Backwoods Home Magazine, among other publications.  I trust her years of experience and like that she insists on following the rules carefully.

Have you ever done any canning?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

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Why Homeschool? Because Life is an Educational Opportunity!

Question mark, thinker, Another Hatchett Job blog, homeschool, education, questions, Creative CommonsMy parents were absolutely fantastic when it came to education, but they probably didn’t think of themselves that way.  School breaks often meant camping or summer trips to Ohio or New Hampshire to see family.  On the way, though, there were all sorts of stops to look around, to read Historical Road Markers and if you didn’t have time to read one, my Dad would take a picture of it in hopes of being able to read it after he got our film developed!

As a kid, totally unrelated to school, I saw forts, lighthouses, Navy Bases, historical boats, submarines (this was pre-9-11, by the way and my Dad is a Navy vet), historical recreations of early settlements, museums, the Smithsonian, the founding documents for our nation, indian reservations, mountains, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, “Alpine” villages, Appalachia, festivals which showed “pioneering” skills like blacksmithing, leatherworking, tanning, soapmaking, open fire cooking, quilting, and many others.  And, for every thing I remember from our trips, I am sure that I am forgetting several others.

In addition to the waypoints and destinations of our trips, we did light hiking (I was a club-footed kids with orthotics, so heavy duty hiking was out), in all kinds of terrains, went swimming, fishing, and just hung around outside.  As a young teen, we would take a hammock and Mom and I would take turns laying in the hammock, reading books for fun and alternating time with Dad.  Those were the best times!    Sometimes we met other family members and after dinner, would play softball together, letting the littlest members win.  My cousin and I swam and used a zip line to enter a lake.  We learned to make fires.  We lived with germs and survived (although I did go to Mercy Hospital in Pennsylvania at 12 years old after sand fleas bit my face in the night while camping.  My face swelled up and I couldn’t open my eyes).

And I learned something on every single trip!  One year, my uncle showed me how to find lady slippers, the only native orchid in North America, which are endangered.  A lovely native American at a reservation in North America liked that my hair was braided like hers.  Mom and Dad took a picture of us together and she took time to tell me about her family’s history and the crafts that they made.  And who could forget the never ending line of Historical Place Markers!  I laugh about it, especially the pictures of them.  But, to this day, I stop and read as many as I personally can.  My latest find was of a gorgeous old covered bridge in the backwoods of middle Georgia, constructed with pegs by a freed slave.  So, many years later, I am still learning from their example.Another Hatchett Job blog, horses, therapeutic riding, Creative Commons attribution

Now, it’s my kids who are rolling their eyes at me for reading these signs, but I know that they are learning, just as I did.  Today, oldest son and I met the farrier at the horse farm where DS 17 does therapeutic riding.  We learned about horse anatomy, those hooves and how to care for them, and about the skills needed for the job.  We learned that my son is actually too big in stature to comfortably work with horse hooves, but the farrier thinks that he would be a natural at Equine Massage.  I wasn’t raised around horses, so I had never heard of this.  Now, we have a new career path to explore that my son ( who is Autistic/Asperger’s syndrome) is excited about!  He isn’t going to attend college, but he might be able to apprentice and work toward certification in a field that would keep him near his beloved horse friends.

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons attribution, bird banding, baby birds, ornithologistYounger son likes to help (and is getting pretty proficient at it) Ornithologists (or bird nerds, as we affectionately call them) to do bird banding for migratory research studies.  He wants to be a wildlife biologist and he loves the opportunity to learn about and appropriately handle wild animals.  He got a taste for this type of work (and connections to eventually bird band) when both boys and hubby would take classes together on weekends at a wildlife management area that is about an hour away.  They took classes like bird identification, butterfly identification, dragonfly identification, frog and reptile identification, and general entymology identification.  These classes were aimed at kids and often involved a bit of slogging around in the shallows of a pond or marshy area.  My boys have loved being outside and the learning can kind of sneak up on them while they are having fun.

Even watching a documentary on some topic of interest with Mom and Dad can spur conversation and help develop an interest!  Homeschoolers often worry that they aren’t providing kids with enough opportunity to learn, but by creating an atmosphere where parents and kids are constantly learning new information and sharing with each other, these families are flinging open the doors to genuine and memorable learning.

I can’t remember worksheets that I completed in school, but I remember vividly putting my hands on the bullet holes in an old log fort in the North Georgia Mountains and learning about the battles that happened there and the lives that were lost.  And, I was a public school kid.  My parents just liked to learn things and took me along for the ride.  I wish more parents would do the same.  They supplemented my education while supplementing their own.  I hope my own kids are benefitting in much the same way.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle of learning, but every parent can help their child to continue learning and to love the acquisition of new information, regardless of how their children receive their formal education.  Unfortunately, in recent years, fewer families are doing these things with their children that aren’t homeschooling.  I worked in both public and private high schools for years and saw first hand that too many parents often completely abdicate any responsibility toward educating their children in academics, character, or even common sense.  Personally, as a homeschooling mama and a professional educator, I would challenge everyone to take one weekend a month to learn something different with your children.  Try a new recipe and learn about the country where this dish is commonly served.  Go on a field trip to a State Park or historic site and walk around.  Go for a long walk and really look at the flowers, trees, leaves, etc.  Before you know it, you will find yourself becoming an educator as well!

How do you encourage learning in your home?

Thanks for stopping by for this series, as this is the last article in the Why Homeschool? series, I hope you will check out any articles you may have missed.  More articles on homeschooling, frugal living, quilting, and life in general will be coming out weekly!

Why We Homeschool

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool?  School Safety

Why Homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool?  Field Trips

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Religon

Why Homeschool?  Life Long Learners

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Surviving the Economy

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons Attribution, savings ahead, road signs, warning signs, saving money, frugal life, frugal livingThis post could realistically be subtitled, Why Bananas Matter.

Lately, I am reading other blogs and they have various posts about strategies to help deal with rising prices in a world where incomes don’t seem to be rising much, if at all.  I read these posts hoping to learn a little something more to stretch our income.  That left me wondering why so many folks seem to worry about the big things, but think nothing of bananas.

You may wonder how bananas would matter in the over economic scheme of things for a family that is not involved in banana farming.  Fair question.

If my family is going to enjoy bananas (which have pretty much doubled in price over the last year where we live) and keep on having money for other necessary items, we have to watch the details.  Like the bananas!

So what is my big money saving tip for bananas?  Buy the bags of really bad looking bananas.  Yes, the yucky looking ones with spots and such that are about half price.  Bring them home and let anyone eat fresh those that aren’t really too bad and then peel the remainder and put about 3 whole bananas in a labeled freezer bag, squish the extra air out, and put in the freezer.  Those bags are like gold when my family wants some banana bread!  We make lots of fruit breads, but banana is a regular.  And those bags with 3 bananas in them will thaw out to a more or less mushy consistency, like we need for a recipe of banana bread and in just the right quantity.Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, bananas, healthy food, bananas with spots

Now, this winter when we want banana bread, we won’t waste a fresh banana for baking when what we are making doesn’t need that nice, firm texture.  It’s a win-win situation and we save money.  The peels also go into the compost heap for eventual use in the garden.  Lately, younger son, DS 15, has been using frozen fruit (his favorite is bananas) to make yogurt smoothies.

Then, by making our own banana bread or muffins, we save even more money by putting in the effort to cook it at home than purchase it in a store.  Plus, ours tastes better and we know what is in it (no Frankenfoods!).

See, the pennies take care of themselves when we do this (okay, actually quarters in savings this time).  By taking care of the pennies, the dollars will follow.  There are far more little things to cut back on than big items, so it makes sense to do both.  We watch for good deals on insurance, etc. and we drive older, paid for cars.  And, we freeze bananas.  And shredded zucchini.  And carrots if we have an abundance.  It’s good food for our tummies, good for us (okay, too much sugar, but other than that), and it sneaks veggies and fruits into our oldest son, (who has major texture issues) which is a fantastic thing!

How is your family saving money?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Blast From the Past: Dead Easy Greek Yogurt

A short time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a little red headed blogger got in WAY over her head with a self hosted blog and one day–POOF–it refused to publish or save any more posts.  Even her techno savvy friends and family members (hi, Dad!) couldn’t save her beloved blog.  Sadly, the girl (who loves to write, but is only minimally techno savvy, by the way) restarted her blog on WordPress (but not the self hosted kind).  But, hating to lose her previous 800+ posts that wouldn’t be seen, she came up with a brilliant idea (!) to institute a feature to bring back some of her older posts that she wanted to keep or thought were good.  Hence the new feature:  Blast From The Past!

So, if you have followed my blog in that other, sadder blogosphere, you have probably already seen this one.  But, you might like it even more now…  Hey, you never know!

So, from January 13th, 2013….

Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons, greek yogurt, recipes, homemade foodsMy kids adore taking fresh fruit, a little sweetener, (sometimes a bit of ice cream) and some Greek yogurt and whirring it all together with my immersion blender to make a custom smoothie.  However, all that Greek yogurt, while healthy, was driving up my food bill!

Enter Pinterest and the recipe I found to make what I call Dead Easy Greek Yogurt.  Honestly, after all the recipes that I have looked at for homemade yogurt, I was a little bit shocked to see how simple this one is.

Put 1 gallon milk (any kind, but preferably not super-pasteurized) in a large crock pot.  Add 2-3 cups of dry powdered milk and stir to combine.  Put lid on and heat milk to 180 degrees Farenheit.  Turn off heat and let cool to about 110-115 degrees.

Another Hatchett Job blog, greek yogurt, crockpot, how to make greek yogurt, dead easy greek yogurt, recipe, real foods, whole foods
photo by Jan Hatchett

Ladle some of the warm milk into a container and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt.  Stir until smooth.   Add to crockpot with other milk and stir gently and thoroughly.

Put in containers and place in your oven…with only the light on and leave it for 8-12 hours to incubate.

When you remove it, place it in the refrigerator and enjoy as soon as it is thoroughly chilled.

Have you ever made homemade yogurt?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why Homeschool? Life Long Learners

Whew!  Thank goodness that is over.  I will never have to think again as long as I live.

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons, textbooks, homeschoolIs it me, or do those words make most of us cringe when we think of a high school graduate saying them?  Why is that?

From my perspective, I would want that young man or lady to know that life is just beginning and that there will always be new information to be learned.  If nothing else, your silly smart phone will upgrade and you will have to learn how to use the new features, every year or so!  There are hobbies to learn, books to read, documentaries to peruse, parenting information to be needed, blogs to read, world events to stay on top of.  I can’t imagine thinking that it would be so cool to NOT cool.

I would want to scream at them at the top of my lungs, “ONCE YOU SIT DOWN IN THAT RECLINER AND GIVE UP YOU ARE GOING TO SPIRAL TOWARD DEATH.  MAYBE NOT A PHYSICAL DEATH JUST YET, BUT DEATH NONETHELESS.  YOU WILL DULL YOUR SPIRIT, DAMAGE YOUR INTELLECT, BE MORE PRONE TO DEMENTIA AND BE A BORING PERSON TO BE AROUND.”  Ahem.  There.  I feel a little bit better now.

Take a moment and think about all of the people you have known in your life.  Who seems the most vibrant to you?  I’d be willing to bet that your thoughts gravitate toward those who are lively, interesting, have hobbies, know trivia, are “sharp as a tack” so to speak.  Now, not everyone is blessed with high intellect, but those people who are interested in things and get involved in that interest are just more interesting people.  They have more to talk about, to share, and to learn–maybe from you!  Those sad individuals who sank into a sofa or recliner, staring aimlessly into a screen and scrolling channels have given up on exploring new horizons and they (I am only speaking from my personal observations) tend to be depressed and unhappy.  They don’t pursue relationships and are lonely because others don’t seem to want to spend time with them.  They seem to fall into ill health and it perpetuates that cycle of misery.Another Hatchett Job blog, tv, television, boob tube, screen time,

But, put a good book in the hand of someone and they can experience a time of escape.  They can get “out of themselves” and think about something else for awhile.  It’s good medicine for the soul to have an interest.

Plus, if you love learning, you will NEVER be bored.  You will always have new avenues to explore, new people to meet, possibly new business ideas or promotions to pursue.  So, why do we accept an educational system that isn’t geared toward an absolute love of learning and exploring new ideas?   Why do we settle for disgruntled students, overworked and underpaid teachers, and standardized testing instead of genuine exploration?  One of the major strengths of homeschooling families is that they love to learn together.  They have learned the power of helping a student “find out” and learning alongside them.  They have learned that they are positively re-energized by a good field trip and that if the kids can actually learn without feeling tied to a book and paper, they may actually be retaining more information overall.  When the parents think learning something new is cool, it is not much of a stretch for that attitude to be contagious.  And that kind of contagion can really shape this world we live in for the better.

Are your kids becoming life long learners? 

For more of this series:

Why We Homeschool

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool?  Field Trips

Why Homeschool?  School Safety

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool?  Religon

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Too Stinkin’ Cool!

Another Hatchett Job blog, crafts, craft, creativityThe subtitle of this post could very well read, “And now we interrupt this series on homeschooling to bring you something crafty….”

Aren’t these little lovebird pillows on the right side just adorable?  Earlier this year, I needed a gift for a bridal shower.   Let’s just say that while on a tight budget, I needed a gift with some pizazz.

Enter my incredibly talented cousin, Laurie, and her gorgeous little boutique called The Green Haus in Griffin, GA.  At her grand opening, I had noticed that she was selling some super cute, very different pillow covers.  They were neutral, could be modern or not, and very classy—the kind of thing that wouldn’t go out of style in a couple of years.

Another Hatchett Job blog, frugal gifts, wedding gifts, The Green Haus, Crafts, Sewing
photo by Jan Hatchett

When I got my shower invitation, I knew that this was just the ticket.  Now, fortunately, my cousin (and her Mom, my aunt, make lots of the creative items for her shop) are amazingly creative and after talking about it a bit, we decided to go with the groom’s last name on one and lovebirds for the other.  I think they came out fantastically well!

So, two 16 inch pillow forms later and the perfect gift was achieved!  The fabric was a natural canvas, similar to a drop cloth with black designs and burlap flowers with button centers.  They turned out too stinkin’ cool, if you ask me!

Now, I didn’t sew these, but after years of quilting, I can muster up a pillow cover or two.  But, for these, I really think it was the embellishments that truly brought them to life.  I think I will be looking at pillow covers in a whole new way now!

What’s your go to gift item?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why Homeschool? Religon

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative CommonsFull disclosure:  I am a Christian and I do believe that I need to expose my children to Christian ideals, etc., but I am not a big fan of Christian textbooks.  I personally prefer to use secular textbooks and insert any religous information that I feel necessary as I teach.  Most Christian based textbooks tend to lean heavily on the traditions of one or more of the mainline denominations and as we are non-denominational, they don’t really apply to our worldview.  However, each family should do as it sees fit.

I really hesitated to write this post.  I don’t talk about my religon online much.  I also don’t talk politics online much.  I just don’t see the point of arguing about things and that seems to be exactly what happens with either of these subjects.  Like most parents, I teach my children what my husband and I believe.  Unlike some parents, we DO tend to discuss other points of views and other cultures.  We have decided to present all of the information to our kids and allow them to make their own decisions.  Our decision to homeschool wasn’t based primarily on religion.  We tended to look at academic rigor and proper socialization as the primary factors that brought us to homeschool.  But, for other families, this was a primary consideration and it is for these families that I decided to include this topic.

Our youngest son is really interested in philosophy and politics and world events so this is easy to digest for him.  When world events involve different countries, we can discuss the major Right or Wrong? Creative Commons, Another Hatchett Job blog, homeschooling, education, learning, curriculum, questionsreligons and philosophies of the area and how they might be affecting the events that are unfolding.  We also discuss how our beliefs (our personal bias) might affect how we view them also.  However, our oldest son is special needs and while he understands some of the information, he isn’t interested and he balks at the discussions.  His world is very black and white.  There is no room for nuance in his understanding.  So we give him as much as he can handle.  Wish we could do more, but all we can do is expose him to the information and hope it sinks in.

But, our personal beliefs aside, many families have chosen to homeschool for religous reasons.  In fact, during the 1980s one of the first families to formally homeschool did so because they wanted to include religous education in their children’s school day.  They were Muslim.  Many families, representing a myriad of religous and non-religous groups have chosen the homeschooling lifestyle.  Honestly, I can’t criticize any of them.  They are following their own consciences and doing what they feel is best for their families.  More power to ’em!

Another Hatchett Job blog, Religon, Homeschooling, Learning, Education, CurriculumThe media may portray homeschoolers as slack-jawed, ignorant, inbred fools, but truthfully, there are literally thousands of families from every socio-economic group and demographic homeschooling these days.  You are almost as likely to find a college educated teacher at home teaching her own children or holding a class or two weekly through a homeschool co-op situation as you will find teaching in a private school.

If you are considering homeschooling and religion is a strong factor for you, remember to evaluate curriculums for both academic rigor as well as religious adherence.  There are some out there that can do both, but you have to be picky and persistent to find them.  Or, you can use secular textbooks (check for textbook depositories in the White Pages) and discuss applicable religious views when they come up.  Either way, be sure to create balance in your child’s studies through including religon, academics, problem solving, time out of doors, socialization, and creativity minded opportunities.

Is religon a primary reason that your famly homeschools?

For more articles in this series:

Why We Homeschool

Why Homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool?  School Safety

Why Homeschool?  Field Trips

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Life Long Learning

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett