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The pressure’s on

Recently our church held a ladies luncheon. I helped to prepare chicken salad for the event by cooking about 40 pounds of bone in chicken breasts in the crock pot. This generated quite a bit of chicken broth and then I cooked the bones with some vegetables to generate even more.

During this time Rob was out of town helping a friend move cross country so I had some free time in the kitchen. I put a new gasket and vent on the pressure canner and canned six and a half quarts of the broth, made a batch of soup and then froze the rest.

Later in the week I tried another new canning project, canning great northern beans and pinto beans. They do have to process for over an hour but the actual preparation of the dry beans was no different from actually cooking them for soup or some other purpose. All but one jar sealed properly. I was kind of glad the one jar did not seal because I was curious to taste the finished product. The beans were perfectly cooked and had a nice creamy texture. It will be convenient to have them on hand for quick meals in the future.


I used that one pint jar of great northern beans to try this new soup recipe from Southern Living:


Cabbage, Potato, and White Bean Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsps. olive oil*
4-6 small potatoes, peeled and sliced
4-6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 cups chopped cabbage
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

Heat oil in large soup kettle and then saute onion until tender. Add garlic and cook briefly before adding broth and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are nearly tender then add the cabbage and beans. Cook until the cabbage and potatoes are tender and then season with salt and pepper. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

*This would also be delicious with bacon grease and a little crumbled cooked bacon added to the soup.

Rob and I both really liked this and I plan to add it to our regular rotation. It's always nice to find recipes that utilize things that are kept on hand most of the time.

These successes have made me want to try pressure canning a few other items that I have never tried canning before. These nice cool days before the bulk of the garden produce needs tending to were the perfect time to experiment.

What's been going on in your kitchen lately?

Finally Home

Last week my mother-in-law left her earthly life and entered into glory. The last couple of years were particularly hard ones for her physically. She had many challenges in this life which caused her great sorrow and sadness but a few years ago she opened up her heart to the promises of Jesus and willingly humbled herself and accepted Him as her Savior. Her physical life did not get any easier but she now had the peace that her sins were forgiven and that she would spend eternity with Him in heaven.

We are greatly comforted with this knowledge and thankful that we will see her again when we leave this Earth. We are also thankful for those who have prayed for us, those who attended the funeral, and those who have expressed their condolences to us. We have been comforted and blessed by many.

Shortly after we returned home from the funeral in Ohio our daughter Megan learned that a close friend of hers passed away rather unexpectedly last week. Sara was a young woman in her mid-thirties. A couple of days after that a man from our church who is about our age also passed away after a long battle with cancer. All of these recent deaths are a reminder that our times are in God's hands and that our life here on earth is short but eternity with Christ will be never-ending.

Rob was able to give the message at his mother's funeral and he ended the message by singing the following song:

It Is Not Death to Die

It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God.
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

O Jesus, conquering the grave,
Your precious blood has power to save.
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die.

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just.
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore.

Originally in French by Henri Malan
Translated by George W. Bethune,1847
No. 828 in C.H. Spurgeon's "Our Own Hymnbook"
Chorus and Alternate Words by Bob Kauflin

This is a blessed thought as we consider our lives here on earth and our future beyond the grave.

An International Delight

Many years ago when our children were all still living here at home we decided to eat supper at a local Mexican Restaurant one evening. It happened to be St. Patrick's Day and it so happened that it was also the evening the restaurant had booked a Mariachi band. One of the ladies who worked at the restaurant in those days loved to decorate for every holiday so the restaurant was decked out with all kinds of green and white streamers and shamrocks.

As luck would have it the Mariachi band cancelled and there was a replacement band performing in their place. It was quite a memorable evening for us; we sat there eating Mexican food, surrounded by Irish decor, being serenaded by a German Oompah band, complete with Dirndls and Lederhosen. We have had many good laughs as we recall that meal.

This year we celebrated St. Patrick's Day here at home with Reuben sandwiches. I got the idea from Megan who made them for her family last year. I made a loaf of rye bread using a recipe from The Iowa Housewife site.


To add another dimension to the meal I served it with German Potato Salad using a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens which we have enjoyed for many years:


German Potato Salad

4-5 slices of bacon
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used red this time)
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. celery seed
dash pepper
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
6 cups sliced, cooked potatoes (can boil and slice ahead)
fresh parsley for garnish

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble. Reserve about 2 Tbsps. of bacon fat in the skillet. Cook onion in the bacon fat until tender. Blend in flour, sugar, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Add vinegar and water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add potatoes and heat thoroughly. Garnish with crumbled bacon and parsley.

Apple Peel Jelly and Carmel Apple Cheesecake


Last summer while shopping at a thrift store I found a rather recent copy of Southern Living magazine which featured many apple recipes. After perusing the magazine I wanted to try making the recipe for Apple Peel Jelly so I could then make the recipe for Carmel Apple Cheesecake. 🙂

I had heard of making jelly from leftover apple peels and cores from our neighbor, Dorothy. She lived right next door when we were first married. She loved to garden, can, and cook, so we were kindred spirits in many ways.

I made the apple jelly using the magazine recipe last fall. It turned a beautiful pink color and had a nice, sweet apple taste but it did not set up properly. Fortunately I found some instructions for what to do if your jelly is too thin on the Pick Your Own website. I followed those instructions and this time the jelly set properly. I had not planned to actually can this recipe since I was just making a very small amount and would keep it in the refrigerator. In the past I have had blackberry jam which was too thin which I used for blackberry syrup or ice cream topping.

Well, since I had the apple jelly on hand I could now move on to the Carmel Apple Cheesecake. It did not disappoint! It turned out to be quite delicious and helped to use up some of the last of our fall apples when I made it a few weeks ago. I used some leftover (store bought) ginger snaps to make the crust instead of the graham crackers called for in the recipe. The pecans in the crust were quite nice. In retrospect I don't think you would actually need apple jelly since it uses such a small amount as a glaze on top of the apples. You could probably use thinned and strained apricot or peach jam if that is something you are more likely to keep on hand.

While I'm not sure I will be making the apple peel jelly often it was fun to find out that it is possible and I did learn how to salvage jams and jellies that are too thin. I do plan to add the cheesecake recipe to my file as it was very tasty and attractive. It would make a nice Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert.

Besides the changes to the crust that are mentioned above I also baked the cheesecake in a water bath. I wrapped the pan in two layers of heavy duty foil. I got this new cheesecake pan last year and really like it.


The one I had before was cheap and flimsy and the latch on the outside was difficult to use. Some time ago I read a tip about using a hair dryer to heat the outside of the cheesecake pan to facilitate removing the cheesecake. This large spatula also helps to remove the bottom metal plate from the cheesecake if you want to put it on a serving plate.


If you are looking for a delicious apple dessert add this one to your file.


For my readers who sew


For some time now I have hesitated to use my rotary cutter for various projects because the blades seemed to dull so quickly and I didn't want to have to buy new ones. After doing a little research I decided to invest in a True Sharp rotary blade sharpener. I sharpened several old blades that I had kept and have found them to be like new.


The sharpener is an investment (nearly $40) but I think it will quickly pay for itself since I won't have to purchase new blades very often. It is very noisy to operate and next time I use it I plan to wear ear plugs. I ordered mine from Connecting Threads when they were having a sale on cutting tools. I am not being compensated for this post but just wanted to share something that I have found to be helpful.

Now, if I could only find a way to prolong the life of those marking pens that wash out with water....

On a totally unrelated note, here is a redneck cat condo I made for Buddy and Qwill out of a small box and an old tee shirt. It was well received by both of them.


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