Monday, January 16, 2012

Canning Meat... Again!

It's seems about once a month I find myself canning meat. This time my local Vallarta market had pork cushion meat. They also call it tamale filling. I don't make tamales... yet, but I do like to take advantage of thrifty food finds. A few months back, I bought a pressure canner so I can put up meats, and vegetables that I grow in the garden. A pressure canner is an absolute must for low acid foods and while it's a bit pricey upfront, it pays for itself over time.

I'm making sure of that. So far I've canned chicken (breast and dark meat), beef cubes and pork cubes. If you're asking why I don't just freeze the meat, well, my freezer space is limited and right now it's filled up with a combination of raspberries (red and black), cherries (sweet & sour) and a couple full turkeys!

One of the reasons for canning is to save money on the food bill, but I also can to save time. I like the idea of grabbing a "good" can of food, warming it up and having it on the table in less than 20 minutes. And I've got the canning process down so it doesn't feel like it takes a lot of time. After the prepping I monitor the canning process while I'm working on the laptop in the kitchen. While I've canned just meat pieces so far, this time I wanted to try a meal in a jar. And therein lies my dilemma.What should I make with the pork?

My first thought was shredded pork and barbeque sauce for pulled pork sandwiches. Then I though shredded pork with onions, peppers and tomatoes for tacos. I flipped back and forth until I was totally flummoxed. I can usually make a decision, but this time around... I was at a loss! UGG!

So what did I finally do? Shredded pork in broth!

Not quite what I had in mind for a handy, ready meal on the shelf, but it will still works. Now I can add the barbeque sauce or taco seasoning to the already prepared meat and still save time. I can also use it for soups, casseroles or whatever else the muse suggests.

If you're interested in finding out more about how to use a pressure cooker to can meats, take a look at my Squidoo lens on canning meat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

If It's January, It Must Be Time to Organize!

Yeah, it's that time of year. Holidays are over and we all realize how much clutter and disorganization we've living with. For me... big time disorganization. I thought when I quit my job last June that I would have had the house in tip-top shape. I'm sorry to say, that didn't happen. There was some much-needed time off to veg and then getting back to being a freelance writer... what was I thinking!

Anyway, 2012 is going to be the year of decluttering and organizing (along with cleaning and decorating, I hope). I'm taking tiny steps. The first was this...

Okay, you're asking what is "this?" I write a lot of crafty, homey stuff, so I don't throw away magazines and I collect books like crazy (okay, that's my story and I'm sticking to it). They're stacked up all over because I just don't have a dedicated spot for a library (yet!). I was looking around for a small cabinet that I could stash the magazines and books inside, but still be handy when I need them. Well, you know what happens when you're looking for a specific piece of furniture. Right, you never find it.

What I did find, however, was an old rolling TV stand. So I set about to make it work. I should have taken better pictures, but that's another story. I spray painted the stand black around the edges and on the wheels and then found some pretty scrapbooking paper in blacks and whites. I decoupaged the two flat surfaces. Not well, mind you, since it was my first attempt. But since the shelves are covered with magazine bins and books, it doesn't really matter. I may look for some baskets to replace the plastic bins (or not), but for now my little project does what I need it to do... hold the books and magazine I use for inspiration. And it's step one in getting some type or organization to my office space.

My computers are also getting decluttered. I picked this up yesterday and hope it works. They're all running so sloooooow!

New on the agenda is getting the office files cleaned up (picked up file and hanging folders yesterday, too) and then working on my "craft/sewing studio." All 27 square feet of it. That will be coming up by next week (I hope). Until then,