Saturday, August 25, 2012

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Connie Bryan on winning the drawstring bag! 

Connie, email me your address and I will send the bag to you. (

Thanks to all for your comments! Perhaps there will be another Patti Wagon giveaway in the future. 

And remember, studio adventures has a tutorial on how to make one of these drawstring bags. Get crafty! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


(in my best Oprah voice)

Pattiwagon is having a GIVE-A-WAAAAAAYYYYY!!!

Studio Adventures and I are giving away two patchwork drawstring bags, and you can win one! I'm giving away this bag: 

And Studio Adventures is giving away this bag: 

They would make a great travel bag, gift bag, or even a lunch bag. Possibilities abound!

How to win, you ask???

There are multiple chances to win. By leaving a comment on this post, you'll get one chance. And as one of my followers or a new follower, you'll automatically get another chance to win. 

Then you can do it all over again on Studio Adventures to win her drawstring bag. 

The contest will close at 12:00PM central time on Saturday, August 28th. I'll select the winner by a random drawing. If your name is selected, you'll have 48 hours to respond, so make sure you check back on Saturday. 

If you don't win, don't fret. You make your own with instructions here

Fine print: Comments with inappropriate content or comments from spammers will be removed at the discretion of the blog owner and will not be eligible to win. Prizes will be mailed by USPS. I will not be able to send the package outside the continental US. 

Let the games begin! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lessons Learned: A Logbook

  • Saturday, 9:00 PM: It is not a good idea to start baking bread at 9:00 PM. Especially if you are not nocturnal.
  • Saturday, 9:24 PM: It is a good idea to check to make sure you have enough flour before you start baking bread at 9:00 PM. 
  • Sunday, 1:50 AM: A casserole pan does not substitute for a bread loaf pan. So if you are baking two loaves of bread, you probably need two bread loaf pans. Who knew?

  • Sunday, 8:30 AM: This is a very good whole wheat bread recipe.
I've been working on my bread baking skills of late. I've always made a pretty good pizza dough, but my bread and biscuits have been less than stellar. As in, mostly inedible. I decided to tackle whole wheat bread first, so I googled "foolproof whole wheat bread recipes" a few weeks ago. I first tried this one. It was very foolproof and very good. My only issue was that it got stale very quickly. But maybe I've just become inured to the preservatives that come with store-bought bread

For my next experiment (begun at 9:00 PM), I went with a recipe that included dry milk (for flavor) and vital wheat gluten (extra protein, for texture and strength). And I think it may be a winner, save for the malapropos bread pan. This bread has a certain weight and oomph to it, two qualities I like in whole wheat bread. If I make it again, I'll definitely use honey instead of sugar though. It's not like I don't have enough. I'm just beginning my adventures in (edible) bread, so if you have any tips or tricks, send them my way. 

bread pan loaf, straight to the freezer

casserole loaf, breakfast this morning

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One More Canning Post

For at least the next week. I promise.

In this canning post, I'll go over pressure canning. This requires special equipment, i.e. a pressure canner, as well as the funnel, jar grabber, and clean jars, lids, and rings.

PW has previously explored water-bath canning and hot jar canning. Enough with child's play. It's time to get serious.

This is very similar to the pressure canner I have, and I love it. It doubles as a pressure cooker. Pressure canning is used when you want to preserve vegetables or meat. Homemade spam, anyone?

We use the pressure canner to can everything at tomato camp except salsa. That means juice, pizza sauce, catsup, and spaghetti sauce. In this post, I will bestow you with the spaghetti sauce recipe. Lean in close; this is a gem: this spaghetti sauce is good. Like, really good. And the best news is that you don't have to can it. You can freeze it. No special equipment necessary there. And if you do make it, you will never want to go back to store-bought sauce again.

Here's the recipe:

4 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 carrots, grated
3/4 c chopped green pepper
2-3 T oil
1 c parsley, chopped
1 peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
48 oz tomato paste
2 T salt
2 T brown sugar
1 t pepper
4 bay leaves
4 t oregano
4 t basil
1 t thyme

1. Saute the garlic, onions, carrots, and pepper in the oil until soft.

2. Mix in remaining ingredients and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. If it ever gets too thick, thin it with some tomato juice.

                   The spoon. While it may be the best utensil, it's wholly unnecessary here. 

3. At this point you can freeze it in ziploc bags, or you can be brave and bold and pressure can it. 

Here's to being brave and bold!

To pressure can anything, the most important step is to FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE CANNER. I'm not trying to make anyone sick here. I'm also not trying to cover the ceiling of your kitchen with red sauce. These are our rudimentary steps:

1. Prepare. Make sure you have sterilized jars (we like wide-mouth pints) and rings and new lids. Have your funnel, jar grabber, dishtowel, and dipper at the ready. You know the drill.

2. Heat up the canner with a few inches of water at the bottom.

3. Fill a jar with sauce, wipe the rim, lid it, ring it, and put it in the boiling water. Repeat. About 14 times.

4. The next steps will be determined by your canner. You will basically heat the canner, raising the pressure to a specified poundage for a specified period of time. Then you'll let it cool down in a controlled manner. Remove the jars and you should hear the glorious POP! of the sealing lid.

5. Enjoy! While this may seem like the easiest part, it is not. You're going to want to eat this for every meal. But ration it. You'll thank yourself come March, when you find a hidden jar in the back of the pantry.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Update: Peach Honey

I write this post with much reluctance. I feel like I've found the Ark of the Covenant! And let's be honest; teaching isn't bringing in the millions. The following could. 

I have great difficulty keeping things like this to myself. So, cat, bag, exit. (And apologies in advance for the lack of photos. I've been too excited about this to take any pictures.)


Peach honey is amazing!!!!!!! (That's seven exclamation points, if you're counting. It deserves about a million.)

I'm halfway through my second jar, and I made it less than a week ago. Granted, I am a condiment junkie. I don't think I can continue at this rate, but I want to!!!!! (Five.)

I've had it solo, mixed in with my overnight oats and on toast. Simple. Delicious. 

But it really shines in a savory context. I started basic: equal parts PH and spicy mustard. Great on a ham or turkey sandwich. Mix in mayo for a honey mustard dip. Mix in olive oil (and a splash of vinegar) for honey mustard salad dressing. 

I turned my attention to meat last night. I had several bone-in chicken breast halves, so I made a glaze with peach honey, soy sauce, spicy mustard, and a bit of oil. Baked 30 minutes at 400. What could be wrong with that? Um, nothing. What could be right? Everything. So, so good. 

I mixed in more olive oil and a splash of white wine vinegar to the PH+soy sauce+ mustard combo and dressed my salad with that today. Yeah, you guessed it. Another winner.  

The cogs started turning. The following things happened after school today: PH+ buffalo sauce!!! PH+barbecue  sauce!! PH+hot Chinese mustard!! It is impossible to strike out with this stuff.

I have yet to try these: PH+salsa, PH+gravy, PH+Acetaminophen, PH+shampoo, PH+aloe. Next blog post.

So, back to the Ark of the Covenant. How/why is this not more popular? It's not terribly complicated to prepare. And it's certainly worth the effort. PW's Peach Honey. Trademark it. Who wants to be my business partner? 

No? Well, you can and should make it at home. Why? YOLO. And peach honey should be a part of it!!!


Monday, August 6, 2012

First Day of School

Homemade sandwich on homemade bread in a homemade lunch pouch. It's the Patti Wagon way. 

Note: There will be no blog post about the gas station grab bag lunch I will be eating in November. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Peach Honey? Yes, please!

In my last post, I listed all the different ways with which I have experience canning, and I gave you a recipe for "hot jar canning," my grandma's salsa. (Side note 1: If you're thinking, "She can't seriously be doing another canning post," um sorry?) (Side note 2: After I wrote that post, I cracked open the first jar of salsa, and now, approximately 26 hours later as I write this post, it is gone. I have condiment dependency.)

In this post, I'll tell you more about "water bath canning." This requires one more piece of equipment. Because you'll be sealing your jars in the stock pot, you will need a rack, so that the jars are not sitting on the bottom of the pot. The most common type is pictured below, but it's not without its problems. (See confession.)

(Confession: I bought a canner just like this six years ago, and my spacial-relations-challenged self still cannot figure out how the rack works. I eventually found a new rack at an antique store that is much more user-friendly. If you know how to operate the above-pictured piece of equipment, you should join Mensa. And then you should tell me how to use it. And then you should eschew calling me an idiot.)

Now I have a fancy pressure canner that can double as a water bath canner, complete with its own uncomplicated rack.

What you'll need: 
Water bath canning is a very common way to process jam, as it doesn't need much time to cook and seal (usually under 20 minutes). If you are planning to can something like spaghetti sauce or deer sausage, you should probably invest in a pressure canner, as they might take hours in a water bath.

Today we will be making and canning Florida Peach Honey. Um...? Yum!

This is a new recipe for me. My mom told me about it in Florida and then sent me on my way home with a box full of Florida peaches. (Georgia, what? Georgia, who?) While peach honey can't replicate bee vomit (what can?), it is a delightful alternative.

I researched it on the internet a bit and have combined my mom's tips with an adaptation of this Paula Deen recipe. Enjoy!

Florida Peach Honey

1 lemon, seeded (but keep the rind and the pith)
20 Florida peaches
8 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Throw the lemon parts in the food processor and pulse until it is mush. The lemon adds pectin, a gelling agent. 

2. Peel, pit, and chop the peaches. (Tip on peeling: score the peaches with a knife and place in a pot of simmering water for about 60 seconds, then immediately move to a bowl of ice water. The skin should peel off faster than Ryan Lochte peels off his speedo when he comes to my house. Barely.)

Three bald peaches. I guess they don't need Larry's hairbrush anymore. 

3. Toss them in the food processor as well. Pulse, grind, puree, blend until smooth.
4. Pour peach liquid into a large pot. Stir in sugar and vanilla.

5. Put the stove on high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring (nearly) continuously. You
don't want it to stick to the bottom.
6. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for another 90-120 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should be thick like honey and a beautiful shade of mahogany.

For the canning:
While the peach honey cooks, get your canning stuff prepped. For a water bath, this means:

1. Fill your stock pot with water, such that the jars will be covered when you put them in. You might need to do two levels of jars (which is fine), but it just means you'll need more water. Bring water to a boil.

2. Have your supplies at the ready. The jars and lids do not need to be hot, just clean.

3. Fill the jars with the hot honey, wipe the rim clean, place a clean lid on top, and tightly screw on a ring. Place the jar in the boiling water using the jar grabber.

4. Repeat until you have used up all the honey.

5. Put a lid on the stock pot and let it boil lightly (or simmer) for 12 minutes.

6. Remove the jars from the pot. You might or might not hear the mellifluous "POP!" of the lids. Don't panic! They could have popped in the water bath.

7. Let the jars hang out on the counter until they are cool. Check to make sure all the lids sealed. If one didn't seal, you can try to re-can it or just put it in the refrigerator and eat it within a few weeks.

So now that you have peach honey, get creative! I've only had it on toast (and out of the jar with a spoon, obvi), but I'm thinking chicken glaze, pork glaze, ice cream topping, barbecue sauce, oatmeal mix-in, honey mustard, pancake topping, bellinis, someone please stop me, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, marinades, white sangria, smoothies, baked brie, thumbprint cookies.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

So You Think You Can Can???

I know canning seems like it belongs in the 1950s with ham balls, tomato apsic, and chicken a la king, but with a little research, you will discover that it's making a come back. I don't know why it ever fell out of favor; the advantages to home canning are clear: 
  1. The food is good. Really good. And all year round. (I could probably stop here.)
  2. You control exactly what goes into the jar. The same cannot be said for factory-canned products. 
  3. It is less expensive. (See my post on jam if you need some proof.)
  4. It's a really cool process. And one that you can brag about to your friends. (You actually might want to find some friends with whom you can can.)
Have I sold you yet? I don't know why not. Think of these next couple blog posts as a little primer on canning. And then, when you're ready, get on with your bad canner self. 

First of all, I am in no way an expert on canning. I have never even read a book about canning. What I'm going to write here is based on my first-hand experiences with the canner and the wealth of knowledge from my grandma, aunt, and mom. Now, I'm not saying there won't be an applesauce explosion in your kitchen, but the Clayton family has been canning for many generations, and we've never danced with the botulism devil. (Let's keep the streak alive.)

There are three types of canning that I have experience with:

  1. Pressure Canning (Requires special equipment. Will address this in a later post.)
  2. Water Bath Canning (Requires a large pot and a rack. The rack keeps the jars from touching the bottom of the pot.)
  3. Hot Jar Canning (Doesn't require much special equipment. We'll start here.)
Now you can't just can willy nilly. Every canning recipe will specify which method you should use. Let me reiterate here, let's keep this "no botulism streak" alive.

So, on to the recipe! We'll start with salsa. (A note on this salsa: It is not your typical pico de gallo. I think it's a little sweet and a little spicy and a whole lot delicious, but if you're condiment-picky, you might want to make a small batch or just ask me to try some.)

Salsa can be canned using method #3. In addition to the ingredients, you will need the following supplies:

  1. large stock pot
  2. 10 half pint jars, rings, and lids (You can reuse jars and rings, but not lids.)
  3. jar grabber or tongs
  4. fancy ring lifter OR magnet attached to string (Helps you avoid sticking your hand in boiling water.)
  5. wide-mouthed funnel
(Clearly you can buy your supplies on Amazon. Or you can buy them at a large grocery store.)

Before you start the process, go ahead and clear your calendar for the afternoon. (Or the rest of the weekend - salsa actually takes two days.) You don't want to be in the proverbial canning weeds when you have a date coming in five minutes! (It is important to note that the proverbial canning weeds is a place where tomato pulchritude shines, not human.)

The recipe starts here. FINALLY!

Grandma's Salsa

  • 3 quarts skinned, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (Use ripe tomatoes from the farmer's market. Otherwise it will not be worth the effort.)
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 3 cups chopped celery (Like I said, not your typical pico.)
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 T pepper
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I use light.)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
Mix the first five ingredients and place in an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight.
- Next day -

Drain the veggies well and place in a large pot. Do not force any juice out by pressing down; just let the vegetables let go of any juice they want to.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 35-45 minutes, or until it's to a thickness your heart desires. This is what my heart desires:

You could refrigerate it and eat it now, but it would probably only last a week. You need to can it. And I think you can can it.

While the mixture is cooking, you will want to prep everything for your canning.

1. Fill the large stock pot with water and put it on the stove. Gingerly place the clean half pint jars into the water and bring it to a boil. This step is two-fold. You want to sterilize the jars further and get the jars hot so the lids will adhere.

2. Fill a small pan with water and place the clean lids in there to boil as well. Again, the lids must be hot in order to adhere to the jars.

3. Get your rings, magnet, wide-mouthed funnel, a clean dishcloth, and a measuring cup (for dipping) at the ready.
- So the salsa is thick. The jars are hot. The lid pan is boiling. Do you think you can can? - 
4. Get a jar out of the stock pot with a jar grabber or tongs and dump the water.

5. Fill the jar with the salsa through the funnel.

6. Wipe the lid clean with the dishcloth. (I think you can figure out this step without a picture.)

7. Get out lid out of the lid pan (using the magnet) and place it on top of the jar.

8. Screw a ring around the top tightly. Use your dishcloth to hold the jar. It will be hot!

9. Continue filling, lidding, and screwing until the salsa is gone.

10. Leave the salsa on the counter. Within anywhere from two-sixty minutes, you should hear the beloved sound of canners everywhere. The POP! of the lid. This means that the jar is sealed. Once the jars have cooled, you can remove the rings and check the lids to see if they sealed. (You actually don't need to listen for the pops of all the jars.) Just run your finger along the edge. If it hasn't sealed, the lid will lift easily. You will know. Put those in the fridge and eat within a week or so.

11. Put away the sealed jars for a rainy day. Or later this afternoon when you're craving chips and salsa. Or tomorrow night when you'd like fajitas. Or next week when a quesadilla is calling your name.