Frank’s Enchiladas

This enchilada recipe comes from one of Frank’s old family traditions. Part of this tradition requires all chili to be exempt from any bean of any kind. Most of the enchiladas we have made over the years have included Wolf Brand Chili. This time is no different. When we lived in Alaska, we really missed being able to buy this brand of chili. There were others, but we didn’t like them as well. One summer, when we drove down for a visit, we bought a case of Wolf Brand and took it back with us to Alaska. The things some people do can be quite comical sometimes.

Today was a good day for enchiladas, it is only 102 degrees, so we thought we would share the recipe. It is very simple.

We start off heating up the chili on the stove……

and frying up some corn chips.

We use olive oil for everything and it makes the chips really good.

We soften the tortillas for the enchiladas in the oil……

 

then add onions……

and cheese. This is some of our cheddar we made last July. It has a good sharp flavor.

 

Roll the cheese and onions in the tortilla then place it with the ‘open’ side face down. We make individual plates for each person. 

Now, smother them with chili and sprinkle any extra cheese on top. By the way, you need to be pretty hungry to eat a plate of these.




Now bake at 400 degrees until the chili around the edge of the plate starts to brown – usually about 10-14 minutes. Remember, it is 102 outside.

They are not ready to eat until the finishing touch is added and the blessing is said.


 

We really enjoy this meal. Right down to the last bite.


Right about now is when Frank starts making this kind of moaning, groaning noise…… “Oaahhhh……I’m full !!!” 
Which is usually followed by,
“I need a nap.”




Until next time – Fern

Fern’s Salsa

This salsa recipe has been adjusted several times to the current ratio of vegetables. We really enjoy it. Especially with fresh corn chips. We buy corn tortillas then fry them in olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt. They are very good alone. But when you add a bowl of fresh salsa, it’s almost a meal in itself.

We eat the recipe fresh and we also can it to eat throughout the winter. The ratios can be increased or decreased depending on the number of ingredients you have or your taste preferences. We like the simplicity of the recipe.

Since I made this batch of salsa over a few evenings due to time constraints, I chilled the ingredients as I prepared them. Before I canned it, I heated it all to boiling.

Earlier in the summer when I only had a few tomatoes, I peeled them by hand to make a quart of fresh salsa. For this batch I actually had a decent number of tomatoes so I blanched them.

Boil a pot of water deep enough to hold some tomatoes. Leave the them in the boiling water for about a minute or until the skins start to split. Then put them in a sink of cold water. 

The skins will slip off easily after they are blanched.

Peel and chop 6 cups of tomatoes to the desired consistency. Some folks use a blender or a food processor, I dice them. 

Finely chop and add 4 medium onions and 1/2 cup jalapeno. Add 1 tsp. salt.

Finely chop and add 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro (more or less). Adjust the amount according to your taste. I tend to add more than the recipe calls for. We really like the flavor. I bought these plants in the produce section at the store. When I plant cilantro here in the spring it bolts and goes to seed. These are trying to do the same thing. So I keep them potted on the porch so I can go out and take clippings for the salsa.  

Stir well. To eat fresh – chill (if you can wait that long). Eat!

To can, heat to boiling, fill hot, sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims, put on lids and rings. Water bath for 15 minutes after coming to a full rolling boil. Remove the canner lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and place them on a towel, then cover with a heavy towel and let cool slowly and seal.

This is another tasty, easy way to preserve our wonderful harvest.

Until next time – Fern

Life is Busy, So Here Are Our Favorite Blogs

Well, I am back in school and life is busy. Much busier than it was in the summer. Not near as much time to think about and prepare posts, or process the garden and milk. So……..

A few days ago, Mom with a Prep, did a post called Here Are a Few of My Favorite Prepping Blogs, and we thought that was a great idea. 

So here are some of the blogs we read regularly, in no particular order.

Hello, Frank here.

ol remus and the woodpile report – I really like this site. It is an elegant, articulate, hard hitting essay about the world today.

Peak Prosperity – Chris Martenson gives us a unique perspective about sustainability from an intellectual, economic position. Part of his site is free, and part of his site requires membership.

SurvivalBlog – This site has a plethora of data about topics that you have probably never thought of. James Wesley Rawles has published many successful books about survival. I recommend, How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It. All of his books are a good read.

World Wide Radio Forum – This is a good place to visit with like minded people and it has a tremendous amount of information about all types of radios.

CB Radio Magazine – This site has numerous reviews of all types of radio gear – antennas, radios, amplifiers, etc. It is also an excellent site for information.

The Economic Collapse – This is an interesting read from an up-to-date perspective about world affairs.

Universal Radio – There are many sites that sell radios and associated equipment. This site has lots of information, considerable data, nice pictures, and I use this site for those purposes. Their prices are competitive and when you call their 800 number, their sales people are polite, friendly and most of all, knowledgeable. Therefore, this is my favorite radio equipment retailer. 

From Fern

Rural Revolution – Patrice Lewis shares information on her blog about many, many different topics – from her garden, to milking Matilda, to cooking, canning, societal issues, happenings that touch the heart or share her frustrations with what is happening in the world. She has ebooks available about self-sufficiency and canning. She writes for Backwoods Home magazine and World Net Daily. Patrice is a great source of information and has beautiful photography. Frank has actually been reading Rural Revolution longer than I have, but now it is one of my favorites.

5 Acres & A Dream – I like to read Leigh’s blog. She has done a lot of research about growing feed for her chickens and goats and that interests me a lot. She has a lot of information and resources on her site. Go take a look.

Hickory Holler – The Canned Quilter has a tremendous garden that she and her husband work and preserve six days a week. They also raise or catch (fish) some of the meat they eat. CQ is a good resource for me and she takes great pictures.

Ask Jackie – I like reading Jackie Clay’s blog over at Backwoods Home. She has been at it for a long time and is a great source of information. I also enjoy her canning book Growing and Canning Your Own Food.

Bacon and Eggs – This site has a lot of gardening, canning and dehydrating information as well as thoughts about the way the world is going.

I have recently started reading Oak Hill Homestead and Clearwater Farm. I like to read about their sheep and goats and they both host the Home Acre Hop where you can link a post from your blog to share with others. New Life On a Homestead also hosts the Homestead Barn Hop that is another blog hop you can link posts to.


There are many other sites we read sporadically that provide a vast array of information. The internet can be an amazing tool with a world of information at your finger tips. It can be used for good, or for evil. We will miss it when it is gone.

Until next time – Fern

Update on Canning Okra – DO NOT USE THIS RECIPE

I have received several comments/questions about the Canning Okra post I did. Some of the comments expressed concern about how well the canned okra would keep since I did not put it through the water bath. I will include the comments below and then report the information I found out.

Since this is not put through a water bath, do you have any idea how long these will be good? Does the vinegar act as a type of pickling agent? Even so, pickles are put through a water bath, unless you go the lactose fermentation route. I love fried okra, so this would be a good way to have okra on hand, but I am worried about how long it would last.
This is the first year I have tried this so I don’t know how long it will keep. I have made relish and pickles that I don’t water bath and they are good for a year or more. The ratio of vinegar to water in the okra recipe is much less than standard pickles or relish, though. I will ask the lady I got the recipe from and see if she knows how long they will keep.
Do any of you canners out there have any input?
Thanks for the question. It is a good one.
Fern
I too am a little worried about no processing. I process pickled okra and it has more vinegar and salt. May slide over and ask Patrice 🙂

I’m curious to know if you heard back from the lady you got the recipe from. I have a freezer is quickly filling with garden veggies and would love to can some this way. I have heard of doing jelly using this method but not okra. I’m going to give it a try though! My little family loves okra and I would love to save some freezer space! Enjoying your blog posts! And we are also Oklahomans – Westville. What a wonderful summer we have had for gardening here!! Abundantly blessed!
I asked the Canned Quilter over at Hickory Holler what she thought about the recipe and here is my question and her response:

Hello CQ,
I have gotten some questions about the recipe for Canned Okra I have on my blog and I was wondering if you could give me an opinion. There are a few people that are concerned about how long the okra will keep without running it through a hot water bath. Would you have any concerns with the following recipe?

Canning Okra
1 gallon sliced okra 
2 tbsp. salt
6 tbsp. vinegar
1 cup water
Prepare jars, lids and rings. Place okra in a large pan. Mix vinegar, salt and water together. Pour over okra. Fill pan with enough water to cover okra. Bring to a full boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
Fill jars with okra. Pour enough liquid in jars to cover okra. Seal. No hot water bath. Just have everything hot and the liquid boiling. Put the rings on tight, cover with a towel and let them cool slowly and seal.
Thank you for your time. Fern
 
I saw this on your blog the other day. Salt and vinegar can both act as preservatives but the amounts seem really low for that purpose. The vinegar and salt are probably to cut the slime of the cut okra. However I would be really unlikely to use this recipe without hot water bathing it. I have pickled okra and canned okra in tomatoes but both were hot water bathed.I prefer to freeze my okra either plain or breaded and it dehydrates really well also. I know that some people are looking for alternatives to freezing and in that instance try dehydrating and I think you would have a better outcome and maybe safer.

Hope this helps, 
CQ

I also asked Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution her opinion. Here is my question and what she said:

 
Hi Patrice,
I did a post about canning okra for frying that did not include using the water bath. Some of my readers had concerns about how long it would keep. One of them recommended asking your opinion. I will be doing an update to the post reporting the opinions of people I have asked for input. Would you like to provide some information?
Here is the recipe:
1 gallon sliced okra 
2 tbsp. salt
6 tbsp. vinegar
1 cup water
Prepare jars, lids and rings. Place okra in a large pan. Mix vinegar, salt and water together. Pour over okra. Fill pan with enough water to cover okra. Bring to a full boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Fill jars with okra. Pour enough liquid in jars to cover okra. Seal. No hot water bath. Just have everything hot and the liquid boiling. Put the rings on tight, cover with a towel and let them cool slowly and seal.
Thank you for your time.

Fern

 
I’ve never cooked with (or even eaten) okra, but I consulted my canning bible (“Putting Food By”) and they recommend that okra ONLY be pressure-canned (not water-bath canned, and especially not “nothing” canned).  While there’s vinegar in your recipe, it’s not enough to pickle the okra.  Okra is low-acid and to preserve it safely, it must be hot-packed and pressure-canned, 25 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts, at 10 lbs (adjusted for altitude).
Remember, just because a jar seals doesn’t mean the food is safely processed inside.  It just means the jar sealed.  Nothing replaces heat when it comes to preservation.
Hope this helps!
Patrice


The lady I got the recipe from has not talked to her niece, who has used this recipe the most so I don’t have an updated recommendation from them. But due to the new information I have received, I NO LONGER RECOMMEND THIS RECIPE AS IS. 

I plan to try canning some okra and see if it still fries up okay or if the canning process makes it too mushy to fry. I will let you know how it turns out. I do not want to share any recipes that will result in unsafe food.

Thank you all for chiming in and sharing your views. It helps all of us learn better ways to preserve our food in a safe and tasty manner.
Until next time – Fern 

Radio – Become a Ham

Hello, Frank here.

This is going to be a short post with a lot of entry level information. There are three licenses in amateur radio, which is also called ham radio. The

first license is the technician, the next level up is the general, and the top and final level, is the extra. As you look through some of the information I am about to provide, you will find other titles for operators. Well, these are old titles that have been grandfathered in. Currently there are only the three mentioned above. Also, you are not required to know morse code for any current level of ham radio license. NO MORSE CODE REQUIRED.

First I am going to talk learning styles. I am a retired educator – teacher and school administrator. I want you to know that not everybody learns the same. Some people will take the information I am going to give you tonight and will be ready to take the technician test in three or four days. Other folks might take three or four weeks. If it takes you three weeks and it takes the other guys three days, no big deal. Everybody learns different. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else, we are all different. Okay. So much for that.


The first level of ham radio is the technician. Of the three tests, it is the easiest with each test getting progressively more difficult. I’m going to give you two band charts. One is from ICOM, and the other is from ARRL. On both of these charts, you will notice old licesnse names. They mean nothing to you or me. But you will notice places where the technician can transmit and receive, which is mostly 2 meter and up. You say what does that mean? When you look at the charts, it will become apparent. There is a small portion of the 10 meter band that the technician can talk on, which in the ham world is called phone. 

Another topic. Both of these charts are very informative. I prefer to use the ICOM chart for my frequency needs. The ICOM chart, just by looking at it, will provide a number of answers for questions on the technician’s test, which, by the way, is the only test we are going to talk about today.

Probably the most useful website you can go to is the ARRL website. Play around in here and it will give you information about many things that

we are going to discuss right now. When you decide to take your test, you will need to contact an ARRL local club. This can be done through this page. You will need the town you live in or the closest town to you. Most of these clubs have websites and contact information. Not only can they tell you when the test date is, they’ll also be happy to invite you to any club meeting they have. Someone there will be happy to walk you through the world of ham radio.

This next site will take you to information about how to get your technician’s license. It’s just more information. You notice these sites are all part of ARRL. This is a very handy webpage to use.

The next site I am going to take you to is the FCC regulations page for ham radio. These are all of the rules, right here. You’ve heard me joke about your third cousin, Bubba? Here are the rules. There are really not very many of them. But, again, these are the rules. When in doubt, pull up this site.

Okay. I’m going to give you a couple of sites that will provide you with free practice tests. The first one is QRZ.com. This is where I used the practice tests to study for my technician’s exam. They will ask you to sign in with

your call sign. Well, you don’t have one. Pick out a few letters you like. I used my initials for my first, middle and last name followed by the number 1. Then you will need to provide a password. Try to make it one that you can remember. Once in this site, go to the tab across the top that says resources. The first selection is ‘practice amateur radio exams’. From here, you should be able to figure out the rest of it. These are free practice tests, and like I said earlier, this is the site I used to practice for my technician exam. 

The next practice test site is called Ham Test Online. This is the site I used to get my general license which is the next license after the technician.

This is not a free site, but my wife and I found that the general class was a little more difficult than the technician, and we liked the format that these folks use. This site also has a free trial period. If you like their style and you like the way things are laid out and you want to use this for your technician’s license, go ahead. It is not free, but I used it and I would recommend it. 

Next on the list is HamStudy.org. This is a free practice test site. This is the site my wife chose to use for her technician practice tests. Remember, different folks have different learning styles. I like the first one I used and she liked this one. You will need to come up with a username and password, but you should be able to do that. 

Next are the No Nonsense Study Guides. This is another cool site with a lot of information. All of the sites above also have a lot of cool information. Don’t be afraid to play around in them. But this site will actually give you something that you can print out or use in pdf form. It puts the questions and answers into a textbook style format. Click on the toolbar where it says ‘No Nonsense Study Guides’ and open the one that says Technician Class. You’ll notice that there are three or four different versions. I used the free version pdf file. This is free and it is a great way to study for the test. On

about page six or seven you will see where it deals with a couple of formulas. Play with these formulas a little bit and you will see that they are actually quite easy. If you have trouble with the formulas, we will talk about them in more detail in the very near future. Don’t be overwhelmed by the math. It is a small, small portion of the test. Again, don’t worry about the math. The technician’s test will have 35 questions out of a question pool of 396 and you will need to get 26 correct to pass. Don’t worry about the math. 

Another example of learning styles. My wife, or YL in ham language, got her ham radio licenses just so we could do it together. Her level of operation is push the on button, pick up the microphone, click the button and talk. She knows little to nothing about antennas, coax, frequencies or modulation, but she does know how to push the button and talk into the microphone. Correction. She also knows how to change the channel.

You ask, how did she pass the technician and the general test? She took the practice tests, over and over and over and over until she memorized the answers. Well, some people might say, that’s not right. She doesn’t understand ham radio. Who cares! She met the requirements, she passed the tests and now she has her technician and general licenses. I, on the other hand, memorized many of the answers, but I needed to know more about the radio and it’s overall operation. A side note here – she scored better on both tests than I did. So, each to their own. Whatever works for you. You have multiple choices here and most of them are free. 

If you want to know more about the details of how radio waves work, the ARRL site above has a plethora of information and books that they will be glad to sell you. Or, get in touch with a local ham club and they will be happy to assist you. The testing fee is normally $15.00. The testing has to be done in person. If you have handicaps or special needs, let the folks know at the testing site and they will accommodate your needs. By the way, if you want to take the technician and the general on the same day, if you pass the first test, the second test is at no additional cost, as is the third test for the extra if you pass the general. If you do not pass the first test, you can take it again, same day, same place, but it will cost you $15.00 more.

One last thing. Always think safety.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Beginning To Train a Milk Goat

There are as many ways to train an animal to milk as there are milkers, I think. There has to be. We all do things just a little bit differently so it will suit us as individuals and that is good. I have tried to do things just like someone else before, but sometimes it just doesn’t work for me unless I make the changes I need for it to make sense or match the difference in my abilities. I definitely think milking falls into this category.

Out of the 12 does we bought in our original herd when we moved here, I trained 6 of them as milkers. And since them I have trained 4 or 5 of the does that have been born here. This is Ivory. She was born here a year ago March.

My training technique has definitely changed and gone through some refining over the last few years. The thing that increases the ease of training the most is raising the doe from birth. Here is Copper when she was just a few days old. We had to ‘fix’ her ear. I find that does I have handled every day since birth are more trusting and easier to manipulate than those that I have bought. Even does that I have brought home at 8 weeks of age. There are always exceptions, but as a general rule ‘my’ does are much easier to train.

Those of you that are following Frank’s radio communications posts, take note of the microphone and handy talky I have. We use these radios every single day around our farm. It is an important part of our daily operational security (OPSEC). I prefer to use a microphone with my handy talky, but Frank doesn’t. We all have to figure out what works best for us. There have been a few occasions that they have made a big difference when one of us needed help. Frank will be discussing this much more on some of his future posts. 

I begin by bringing the ‘new’ doe back into the barn in the milking area and feeding her in a bowl on the floor next to me while I milk another doe on the stand. This year my only ‘first timer’ or yearling is Copper.

Now that Copper is used to coming into the barn to eat. I start to lure her onto the stand occasionally with her feed bowl after the previous doe is finished and turned back out with the herd.
 

When I first began training the does, I would take them by the collar and tail and kind of drag them up on the stand and clip their collars to a leash and make them stand there.
 

Now that I have figured out how to lure them up there and apply a little patience, I realize that all that dragging just caused both the doe and I unneeded stress and anxiety.

Copper is still pretty hesitant about jumping up on the stand, but she is coming along. While she is here I will pat her on the stomach and check out her udder and teats so she will get used to being touched there.

I have handled her a lot since she was born. She may wiggle around some, but she is usually just fine. The closer she gets to kidding, the more time I will keep her up on the stand to eat.   

Many times I will stand beside her and scratch her shoulders or just lay my hand across her back. I will also sit in my milking chair while she is on the stand so she will be accustomed to having me in that position.

When a doe is a few weeks from kidding, I check her right side like this. It is really neat when you can feel the kids kicking.
Another thing I have learned to do is check on either side of the root of the tail to see if the doe’s hips are spreading. When she is a few days from kidding this area will be very soft and open. The goats don’t like for me to do this at first, but after a while they get somewhat used to it – especially if they are eating.

Copper has gotten better at getting up on the stand than she has at getting down. She still looks around like she doesn’t know what to do next.

Anything I can do to expose her to situations she will encounter when I actually start milking, will decrease her fear and anxiety and increase our success in making this experience pleasant and productive. 
 
Milking an animal can be a very rewarding experience. It can provide you with sustenance, a sense of accomplishment and a skill that can prove very valuable. Sometimes the weather is very hot, sometimes it is cold and sometimes the sunrises are beautiful beyond description. 

Until next time – Fern

It’s the Simple Things In Life

It’s the simple things in life that I enjoy the most.

A flower

A goat’s nose


 

A milk bucket shelf. I needed a place to put my extra bucket. I pour the milk into it after I milk each doe into my ‘milking’ bucket. Frank put this up one day while I was gone. I love surprises and he loves to surprise me.

Birds singing in the sunrise. Saying please and thank you. Holding hands when we are walking. A look and a smile from the one you love. Prayer.

A kitchen faucet that is tall. Frank bought this faucet without me knowing about it, because I had been wanting a new faucet. The one we had leaked. Sometime earlier Frank had gone to a big box hardware store 60 miles away and bought a tall faucet without my knowledge. His plan was to replace the old one so when I came home from work it would be a surprise. Little did Frank know that the man that built the house had plumbed it directly to solid copper 35 years earlier. It took him all day, twisted in ways he didn’t know were possible. But finally, using brute force, he removed the plumbing from the 35 year old faucet. Wa-la! A new tall faucet. Aren’t husbands sweeties? Sometimes. This is Frank’s version of the story.

A cup of coffee

Sharing a dozen eggs with an old man from church.

We are surrounded with simplicity and beauty every single day. Take the time to enjoy and appreciate all of your many blessings.

Until next time – Fern