Potatoes In 5-Gallon Buckets

It’s that time of year that we gardeners are busy preparing our gardens for a bountiful harvest. I’ve been one of those said gardeners preparing my raised beds and traditional garden.

I, like most, are skeptical about growing potatoes in 5-gallon buckets but I’m posting a couple of photos today to share how my two buckets are doing.

In the first photo everyone will see a tiny speck of green leaves at the bottom of the photo and a small set at the top of the photo; this bucket is planted with German Butterball potatoes that I ordered and was shipped a week ago, so the growth is not as pronounced as what I’m sharing in the second photo.

photo 2

My new German Butterball Potatoes

In the second photo are my potatoes from last season Russet Potatoes which started sprouting in my basement and as everyone can see the growth is about several weeks along.

photo 1

Last Season Russet Potatoes

When growing potatoes in a 5-gallon bucket I used two that I had purchased at Home Depot. I drilled several holes in the bottom, filled a layer of small river rocks in the bottom, cut and layered a piece of black landscaping paper (one can use several layers of newspapers also). Then I layered 2 inches of a good garden soil mixed with a little bit of worm castings (for fertilizer) and placed three small seed potatoes (sprouts up) and covered with a couple of inches of soil. You want to keep covering the sprouts until you get to the top of the bucket and then just let your potato plant grow and produce your potatoes.

I hope everyone will try growing potatoes in a 5-gallon bucket, it’s affordable and so easy to do.

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Scratch

The smell of cookies baking in the oven instantly warms up the house. Don’t rely on boxed mixes to make those cookies. Chocolate cookies made from scratch don’t take a lot of time, and they’re sure to please the whole family.

Ingredients:

2-1/4 c. flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 c. softened margarine (or butter)
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (3.5 oz) package of Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
2 eggs
2 c. chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine the flour and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

3. Combine softened margarine (or butter), sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract and pudding mix in a larger bowl. Once completely mixed, beat in the eggs.

4. Stir in your flour mixture gradually. Once combined, mix in your choice of chocolate chips.

5. Place the cookie dough in balls at least an inch and a half apart from each other. Bake for about 10 minutes or until browned. Let them cool before serving and enjoy.

Homemade Crock Pot Pizza Sauce

Ingredients:

4 – 6oz cans tomato paste (organic preferred)
1 – 15 oz can tomato sauce (organic preferred)
1 c. water
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 tablespoon honey
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

combine all ingredients except cheese in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir every 30 minutes to 1 hour so it won’t stick. After four hours, stir in cheese. Cool to room temperature and package for freezing or use in 1-2 days.

** I packaged in 4 jelly mason jars and in a quart freezer Ziploc bags. I’ve since used a couple of my jars of pizza sauce and they came out great.

** 1 jelly mason jar of pizza sauce will make one pizza.

Homemade Cream of Soup Mix

Ingredients:

2 c. dry milk powder (non-instant preferred ) Dairy free? Use Rice milk powder
3/4 c. organic cornstarch
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Store in an airtight container (or 1 qt. mason jar)

To make into soup, combine 1/3 c. dry mix with 1-1/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth. On medium heat, bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until thick. Cool. This amount = 1 can condensed cream of soup.

* For Cream of Chicken Soup: use 1-1/4 cups chicken broth instead of water.

* For Cream of Mushroom Soup: use water; add 1/4 c. diced, cooked mushrooms to soup after it thickens.

* For Cream of Celery Soup: use water, add 1/4 c. diced, cooked celery to the soup after it thickens or add a dash of celery seed to the mixture while it’s cooking.

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Homemade Red Sauerkraut

Make your own fermented red cabbage – It’s easy!

Ingredients:

1 glass jar with a air-tight lid
2 pounds red cabbage
2 Tablespoons pickling salt
Fresh ginger, jalapeño, apples, carrots, etc (optional)

Instructions:

1. To prep cabbage, wash the cabbage and peel away any ugly pieces and reserve a few of the nicer layers. Then cut in half , and cut each of those pieces in half so you have quarters. Remove the core from each piece. Then slice thin.

2. Put the shredded cabbage (and other items if using) in a large bowl with salt and massage the cabbage to extract the juices until it begins to soften and shrink in size.

3. Pack the cabbage and juices in the jar a little at a time and squish down as much as you can, extracting more juices and blocking out any air. If the cabbage isn’t submerged under water, boil some salted water and let cool and pour over the cabbage to cover it. Then top with extra cabbage leaves to block out remaining air.

4. Tightly seal lid and leave in a dark place at room temperature for 1-3 weeks. I covered mine in a towel to protect it. Check it every day to make sure the cabbage is still submerged and skim any gunk. Start tasting after 7 days. In the cool winter, fermentation will take longer than in the hotter summer. In my opinion the longer it sits the better! Once it tastes the way you like, store in the refrigerator. it should keep for a few months once refrigerated.

5. Add to anything! Brisket, Reuben sandwiches, latkes. YUM!!!

Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

Sauerkraut came to Europe via Asia, where people have been pickling cabbage for thousands of years. Because of the high vitamin C content, it was very useful in preventing scurvy and keeping people healthy throughout the winter months when no fresh food was available.

To make your own sauerkraut you will rely on the bacteria found on the cabbage leaves. The salt draws out the water and kills off the spoilage bacteria. You will need between a 0.6% and 2% salt concentration, which equals 3/4 to 2 teaspoons of table salt per pound of prepared cabbage.

Makes 1 quart.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

8-10 c. shredded cabbage, loosely packed (about 2 lbs), about 1 medium cabbage head.
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1-2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 c. filtered water mixed with 1 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

In a clean, non-metallic bowl (I use a foil roasting pan), mix cabbage, caraway, mustard seeds and salt. Stir cabbage to release juices. Let rest 10 minutes then mix again. You may let this rest longer (1-2 hours) if needed.

Sterilize jar and lid by boiling for several minutes in water and draining on a clean dishcloth.

Pack into a sterilized quart-sized, wide-mouthed jar, pushing down with a wooden mallet. Add filtered, or non-chlorinated, salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water) water to rim of jar and cap loosely with a sterilized canning lid. Place jar on a tray to catch overflowing juices. keep jar between 65 and 72 degrees for 2-3 weeks.

After bubbling stops, check container and top off with salty (1 teaspoon salt per cup of water, warm slightly to dissolve completely) water if level falls below rim. Skim any (harmless) white spots or film from the top, close jar tightly, wipe off outside of jar and store in the refrigerator until you use it up.

More: German sauerkraut is made using salt, whereas Kimchi is made with rice wine. Both create a favorable environment for fermentation. Canned sauerkraut should be rinsed in a colander before eating, to reduce the briny flavor, but fresh sauerkraut does not have to be. Sauerkraut can be eaten raw, as a garnish or salad, or cooked, with apples, bacon and onions. It is low in calories, too.

How to Can Tomato Sauce

This super basic canned tomato sauce has just tomatoes and salt (and jarred lemon juice to assure a proper acidic environment for canning) – making it perfect for canning because you can add any additional flavors later, when you go to use it. Note the fleshier Roma, plum, or Early Girl tomatoes are great here since they have less juice to cook down to make the sauce.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 4 pints

Ingredients:

8 lbs. supremely ripe tomatoes (a bit overripe isn’t bad here either)
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoon jarred or bottled lemon juice
4 pint-size jars with sealable lids for canning

Preparation:

1. Rinse the tomatoes clean and pat them dry. Now you need to remove the seeds and skin. This can be done one of three ways:

Option 1: cut a small “x” in the bottom of each tomato and blanch them for about 30 seconds in boiling water, remove to an ice bath, slip off their skins, cut in half and squeeze out the seeds.

Option 2: Roughly chop the tomatoes and run them through a food mill.

Option 3: Whirl the tomatoes quickly in a blender and push the purée through a fine sieve.

2. Put the peeled and seeded tomatoes or tomato purée in a pot with the salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring now and again, until the mixture is reduced by about a third, about 45 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, sterilize the jars and lids bring a canning kettle full of water to a boil.

4. Put 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in each of the 4 jars. Transfer the hot tomato sauce to the hot jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space at the top. Screw on the lids, put the jars in a canning rack, and lower them into the boiling water in the canning kettle. Process for 40 minutes.

5. Remove jars and let them cool. Store in a cool, dark place (a cupboard or pantry works great) until ready to use.