Using Canning Jars for Storage

Some time ago, I decided to get rid of all my plastic storage containers and buy glass.  That’s when I discovered how great Ball canning jars are for storing everything and they go in the dishwasher!

In the Kitchen – I use the glass jars for lots of things that I put in the refrigerator.  Since I only use nut flours, I keep them in jars in the fridge because the oils in them can turn rancid if left out on the counter.  Jars of nuts, salad dressings and fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice go into the fridge also.  Leftovers also go into the jars.  I have various sizes of jars from small to gigantic in my pantry and baking center. Jars hold spices, baking powder, baking soda, arrowroot and tapioca flours, and other baking supplies.

In the Bathroom – Pick a jar that will hold those items you like to keep on the counter.  Paint your  jars colors to match your bathroom decor and fill them with cotton balls, cotton swabs, toothbrushes, toothpaste, makeup brushes and a dozen other things you can’t keep organized.

In the Craft Room – Ball jars are fantastic for sorting and organizing all kinds of craft and sewing supplies.  I have some vintage buttons in one, ribbons in another.  Paint brushes, scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamps, pins and so much more work in jars, take up little room on a shelf, and are easy to find when you need them.

In the Garage – There are jars for every need in the garage.  There’s nothing worse than needing a nail or screw and having to hunt through a bunch of cans to find what you want.  Jar lids can be secured under a shelf. Fill the jar and one quick twist and your items are easily available when you need them.  What you are looking for is clearly visible under the shelf.

Decorating – Jars can be filled with candles, hung up to display flowers, filled with colorful glass or marbles, made into a lamp, used to hold gifts, and a hundred other things.

Try it.  You’ll be amazed.




Storing Food From the Garden

Whether you grow your own garden produce, buy it at the local farmer’s market, or are gifted with produce from gardening friends, keeping that fresh, often organic food for later use is a smart idea.


Two safe ways to can food are the water bath method and the pressure canner method.

The water bath method is safe for tomatoes, fruits, jams, jellies, pickles and other preserves because of their acid content.  You sterilize canning jars, prepare your produce, fill the jars, and boil them in water until they are sealed.  If you are new at this, ask an experienced friend to show you how to do water bath canning.

Vegetables, meats, and other foods that are low in acid must be canned in a pressure canner at high temperatures to prevent spoilage.


 Freezing is an excellent choice for storing vegetables, soups, sauces, fruit, and meats.  The secret to successful freezer storage is freezing in air tight containers.  This is where the food saver machine comes in handy.  It literally vacuums out the air so that contents stay fresh for log periods of time and don’t get freezer burn or ice crystals.


Dehydrated foods can be stored very easily in glass jars or safe plastic containers so you have a supply of produce available all winter.  You only need to rehydrate them for soups, stews, and casseroles. Some fruits are even tasty in their dried state, like cranberries, apricots, pineapple, and grapes.

Storing Whole Produce

If you have a dry, dark basement, heated garage, or any area where you can control the temperature and light, you can store potatoes, onions, garlic, and squash for most of the winter. You can store other vegetables as well.  See this article for more information on how to store each vegetable successfully.

Making Vegetable Pasta with a Spiralizer

The spiralizer comes in different forms from a hand-held unit that you must put the vegetable in and twist, a ball jar with a cutter in the lid, and the machine that holds the vegetable and a handle to turn so the machine blade cuts the spirals (this one has multiple blades for different size spirals).

This concept seems to be something recently in the news and magazines, but if you are watching your weight, cutting carbs, or just like to eat healthy vegetables, this is something you may want to check out. It’s a great way to get more vegetables into your diet.

The spiralizer is used often in restaurants where chopping vegetables is a time- consuming chore and chefs find the curled vegetables more pleasing to the eye than plain chopped veggies. Spiralizing creates more volume than chopped vegetables so you think you are eating more without realizing the actual amount is less.

Pasta by itself doesn’t have much flavor, it’s the toppings that taste so good. Spiralized vegetables give you a nutritious base for those toppings without the starchy carbs of pasta.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with zucchini spirals and spaghetti squash used for substitute pasta with marinara, but there are other vegetables that work well in the spiralizer. And these veggies aren’t all about the toppings.

Carrot curls make a great substitute for rice noodles in Pad Thai. Add some meat and peanut sauce and you’ll never miss the noodles.

Make a salad with beet curls, blue cheese, avocado and lettuce of your choice. Serve it with a steak for a complete meal.

Potato curls are very popular for making curly fries. These thin curls absorb less oil than chips and  retain more seasonings.

Try a salad with cucumber curls, shrimp, garlic and hot peppers. Salads with more volume fill you up faster and you consume fewer calories.

Sweet potato curls can be fried, baked, used in casserole, or mashed with butter and brown sugar. The spiralized curls will cook faster than chunks and save you time.

Check Out the New Noodle Machine

There’s a recent trend in cutting vegetables to look like noodles, called Zoodles. They are most often used for making zucchini spirals for those who prefer their spaghetti noodles to be of the non-carb variety.


There are hand-held tools that you insert the zucchini into and twist and the spirals come out the end or the side, but probably the most efficient and time-saving is the spiralizer. This machine is not expensive, cranks by hand, and it sits on the counter with gripper feet. You can even buy an electric version if you have trouble turning the handle.

How To

You place your vegetable lengthwise between the crank and the holder and turn the crank. This peels off continuous lengths of spaghetti sized strings that curl. If you want circles, you can cut out the core of the vegetable before putting on the spiralizer, then you get circles. This makes quick and easy work of chopping raw vegetables.


Spiralizing is not limited to zucchini. Almost any raw vegetable can be cut this way and the model you select may have numerous blades for various widths spirals. Try any vegetable with a firm enough skin like beets, carrots, summer squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, butternut squash or potatoes.


Zoodles can be used in salads, with pasta or alfredo sauce and meat of your choice, in slaws, soups, and in the case of potatoes, can be roasted to form curly fries.

Toss starchy (potatoes, rutabaga, parsnip, peeled butternut squash) spirals with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and your favorite spices. Roast in 450-degree oven, stirring occasionally, until crisp done and lightly browned.

If you love Alfredo sauce, but can’t eat wheat noodles, try making your Alfredo with zucchini, summer squash, or potatoes.


Cookware Finishes

Cast Iron.  

As skillets go, my cast iron skillet is my favorite. It can go in the oven and with proper seasoning and care is non-stick. It is easy to clean and season. It cooks evenly and doesn’t warp. I do watch that I don’t cook tomato based foods in it as they tend to draw the most iron from the metal. Because some iron does leach into food, it can be an advantage to people who are iron deficient, but a detriment to those with too much iron in their blood.

Stainless Steel

The old standby and first choice of most chefs is stainless steel. Whether you buy the top of the line, or the dollar store brands, stainless steel cookware will still perform for you. I have pans from the discount outlet store that are lighter weight, granted, but they are still easy to clean and last a long time. One disadvantage is that without a copper or aluminum core inside the stainless, it may not cook as evenly as other metals.


There is all copper and copper clad cookware. My vote is for the copper to be inside something else, because I don’t want to clean it. It does provide excellent control of the heat though. Heat is evenly distributed over the surface of the pan and you can use higher heat without threat of burning. Copper is often used to clad the base of other metals because of its even heat distribution. Sometimes an exterior surface is clad to another interior metal to maximize assets of both metals.


Aluminum is a toxin in the body and there has been a concern for a long time about the health problems caused by aluminum in cookware leaching into food. Because of this, consumers have concerns about using this cookware. Aluminum does heat evenly and if clad between other safer metals, it can perform well.


Ceramic finish in cookware is the new kid on the kitchen block. The FDA has strict requirements for ceramic products to be lead or cadmium free and reputable companies adhere to this. The ceramic coating is made from inorganic clay and sand, is fired to a very hard finish, and does not leach any chemicals into food. Unlike Teflon, it has no PFOAs or PFOSs.

What Mixers are in Your Kitchen?

There are all kinds of mixers in the kitchen and you may have all of them if you are a serious cook. Most cooks have a few, depending on what they cook.

  •   The queen of the kitchen is the stand mixer. It’s really fun to dump ingredients into the bowl and let the machine do all the work. It has different attachments such as grinders, bread making hooks, and different size bowls. You can get one with a mill to grind your own grains or make pasta and ice cream. It has multiple beaters to mix, knead, whisk and whip. Another attachment can even spiralize your zucchini and cucumbers. Most mixers come in a variety of popular colors to match your decor.
  •   Next up is the hand-held mixer if you need to mix something only occasionally and counter space is at a premium. This one will mix most liquid and some thicker ingredients, but requires a little more interaction between you and the mixer. You do get variable speed, different beaters, adjustable controls and a swivel cord on most models. It also come in colors.
  •   You may have seen the old fashioned hand-held beater in a vintage store, as it is still around. Its beaters move by turning a handle affixed to a wheel. We had one in our kitchen at home in the 50s and it works quite well if you don’t want to drag out the electric equipment.
  •   The whisk is an essential tool in my kitchen. It comes in various sizes and works very well for all kinds of small jobs. Made from stainless steel, wood, and plastic it works great for mixing sauces, eggs for scrambling, dressings, and more.
  •   The wooden spoon! I couldn’t cook without these in various sizes. They can be vintage, inherited from your grandmother, handmade, or mass produced. There are condiment spoons, ladles, slotted spoons, salad spoon sets, stirring spoons, and measuring spoons to name a few. Some are made from bamboo, olive wood, and beech wood.


Treat Your Sweetheart

Treat Your Sweetheart with Butter Cookies

Studies have shown that using your creativity to make something helps relieve stress. Any artistic endeavor will do the trick year-round, but in interest of celebrating Valentine’s Day, making and decorating cookies for your family, parties, and as gifts will give you a feeling of pride in your accomplishment.  Smiling when you see what you’ve created will calm you right down.

No Artistic Talent?

 If you feel like you don’t have artistic talents, the cookie press is one kitchen tool that makes it easy to create party fare and gifts that look like they came from a bakery. It makes a great gift too. Known as Swedish butter, spritz, or pressed butter cookies, the press makes the shapes for you. It comes with a tube to hold the dough, a pressure trigger to push the dough through the disks, and numerous disks for intriguing shapes.

Let’s Get Started

Make the dough following the recipe that comes with your press or search “cookie press” on Pinterest for tons of ideas. Following manufacturer’s directions, place the press on the baking surface, pull the trigger and voila! you have a cookie shape.

Don’t worry if your first couple aren’t perfect. Once the dough packs down into the disk they will be fine.

When filled, place baking sheet with cookies in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to harden a little before baking.

Time to Get Creative

When cookies have cooled, decorate them with icing, sprinkles, or other edibles. The possibilities are unlimited.