Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Canning Salmon, Smoked Salmon, and Tuna

I have been canning salmon for many years. Canning salmon is a great way to free up freezer space. Just be sure to thaw your salmon before canning. Canned salmon has so many uses: salmon loaf, salmon patties, salmon pasta toss, salmon chowder, salmon spread, smoked salmon eggs Benedict, salmon and egg hash, salmon stuffed potatoes, salmon BLT, salmon salad sandwiches, and more. The Ball Blue Book tells you to soak salmon pieces in a brine of 1 C canning salt to 1 gallon of water for one hour and then drain for 10 min. I have never done this. The National Center for Home Food Preservation doesn't have you do this. It is an unnecessary step and I just add salt to the jar before capping.

My method is simple: Cut salmon in pieces to fit your pint or half pint jars and pack into strelized jars with skin next to glass. Fill gaps with smaller pieces of salmon. Leave 1 inch head space. Add 1 tsp canning salt per pint, or 1/2 tsp per half pint. DO NOT add liquid. Adjust simmered lids and rings.  Process in a pressure canner for 1 hour and 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, or adjust for altitude like I need to where I live. Follow your canners directions returning pressure to zero before removing from canner.

Canning Smoked Salmon- Lightly smoke the fish with only 1-2 panfuls of wood chips before canning. I cannot stress this enough. You won't get a stronger smoke flavor by smoking longer, you will only end up with salmon chips. Hard, dark pieces of salmon that are more like jerky to be gnawed on by your dutiful spouse who insists they are delicious. Yes, I'm speaking from experience. So, lightly smoke your fish according to your favorite recipe and follow canning instructions above, EXCEPT, OMIT SALT. Remember, you salted your fish in a brine prior to canning and you don't want salted, smoked salmon. The salmon will finish cooking in the canner. It won't be mushy and will be a sought after commodity. Trust me. It is delicious and I use in in salmon spreads, by itself on crackers, or straight from the jar.

Favorite Recipe for canned salmon:

Pasta Salmon Toss

2-3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pint salmon, regular or smoked
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 pounds spaghetti, cooked al dente, reserve 2-3 TB cooking water
3-4 TB olive oil
3-4 TB butter, room temp.
1 TB dried parsley
1-2 TB lemon juice
1-2 TB capers

While spaghetti is cooking, drain and flake salmon, removing skin. Stir in garlic, eggs, olive oil, butter, parsley lemon juice and capers. Toss in cooked spaghetti and fold together. Add capers and a Tb or more of cooking water if it seems dry. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. This is a frequent request when our daughters visit us.

Canning Tuna

We are fortunate enough to have access to the Pacific NW waters and fresh albacore tuna. If you are ever able to buy tuna straight from the docks (or charter a guide to go fishing), you're in for a treat. There is nothing like fresh tuna and if you ever can your own albacore tuna, you will NEVER want store bought canned tuna again. The dock hands will clean and quarter the tuna you choose and you just keep it on ice until you are ready to use it. Follow the directions for canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation can your tuna. Cut out the dark flesh and Quarter. Cut quarters crosswise into lengths suitable for half-pint or pint jars. Fill into jars, pressing down gently to make a solid pack. I don't add liquid to my tuna, but it may be packed in water or oil, whichever is preferred. Add water or oil to jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per half-pint or 1 teaspoon of salt per pint, if desired. Process according to your canners directions for time ( 100 minutes) and altitude.

If you can't get fresh tuna, you can order canned tuna from The Seafood Connection in Westport, WA. Their canned tuna is awesome and they even have smoked canned tuna. We have tried both and love it. We order their tuna when we run out of our home canned. It is so much better and superior, and you get a solid piece of tuna that fills the whole can.

Favorite Canned Tuna Recipe:

Creamed Tuna

Make a white sauce by making a roux with appx. 1/3 C butter and 1/3 C flour and heat while it bubbles stirring frequently with a whisk, for 1-2 min. Add milk while stirring to make a medium thick sauce. Add 1-7 oz can tuna, stirring to break up pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes with a side of peas or green beans.

How do you like to prepare canned seafood and what are some of your favorite recipes?


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pickled Salmon and Applesauce

Made my first batch of pickled salmon yesterday. I had a King salmon fillet in the freezer from 2015 and since it was from the Columbia River in Washington, I knew it was heading up to spawn, so not as fresh eating as ocean salmon. We prefer eating Reds (Sockeye) or Silvers (Coho). Salmon that are starting to turn because they are getting ready to spawn, aren't as palatable. They are better for smoking, or in this case, my first attempt at pickling.

The salmon season is so finicky on the Columbia River. Last year, sockeye were stacked up at the mouth of the Okanogan due to high water temperatures to head up to Canada to spawn, and it was a fishers paradise. This year, cooler water meant sockeye weren't hanging around and headed straight up river. We spent 2 hard weekends fishing for sockeye this summer up there. One Sunday after fishing our tails off all day Saturday, and then again on Sunday, we managed to land 2 fish. When we got back to the dock, the Fish and Wildlife gal came over to our boat and asked if this was the boat with all the fish. I told her we only caught 2. She said, well if this was a tournament, you're in first place! We call them our $500 sockeye! We spent at least that much to have them in our freezer!

I adapted Sandra's recipe for pickled salmon, basically using 2 C water, 1 C vinegar and 2 TB of pickling spices, then adjusted the sugar by one fourth. I guesstimated on the amount of salt and sugar to use for curing, making sure the salmon was well covered. Otherwise, it would result in mushy salmon. I'm going to go try a piece now, even though it has been only one day. Be back in a minute.

Wow! This is amazing. It is not too vinegary, which I thought it would be trying it so soon. It is pleasantly but mildly sweet, tangy, firm, and just the right amount of seasoning. I bet it will be better in a few weeks!

Today, my endeavor was making applesauce from our Jonagolds which produce every other year. I ended up with 7 qts. and 4 pints. I still have some apples left and am thinking about making a batch of apple butter.

My KitchenAid is a lifesaver when it comes to processing the apples. I will use it again to make apple butter.

Not much else going on here. Snow is melting due to warmer weather temps. Roads will be a mess with the temps at 37 degrees. Gotta run to town and pick up some eggs, milk and other items. Until next time!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


You know times are tough, because times have been good before. You know things are going really well because times have been a struggle before. What a long 12 months we have had.

Bright spots (thanks) - faith in God, we both have good jobs, thus income, little consumer debt (car & camper), plenty to eat, house, clothes, healthy adult children making good choices, each other, like minded, and we cherish each other.

Difficult spots (frustrations) - DH in pain for weeks last summer = surgery for kidney stone and 2 month recovery, followed by 3 weeks of intense tooth pain, followed by tooth being pulled, puppy was ran over and had to be put down, I had a cough for weeks and then prescribed round after round of antibiotics for "sinus infection"- ended up in hospital with C Diff and am still trying to recover, paying $400+/mo. in medical bills,  very difficult time at work with lots of stress for both of us, oldest dog died, letter from IRS stating we owe $14,000 for tax year 2014, said we filed an EZ with only my incorrect income showing with a big refund. We are now finding out our identity was most likely stolen and get to meet with IRS on Friday to get straightened out. Fished hard for 2 weekends straight for long hours, only to have 4 fish to show for it. DH having more health issues - prescribed double antibiotic for 30 days (still taking it). These are the highlights. Plus trivial things like the lawn mower won't start, no like minded friends, pick up needs a lot of work, can't keep up with chores, etc.

So, between all the medical and health issues, losing 2 dogs, the IRS, work stress, medical bills, and the like, we still have a pretty good life and can't complain. We have had a long storm. I could not go through all of this without my DH and faith. I start my new job in 2 weeks. I hope it will be a good year, and that my DH will stay busy with work. I am very blessed.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Humble Food for Humble Times

I am very aware of how much I spend at the grocery store, and what I end up with at home to put in the fridge or on the shelves. $100 used to fill the shopping cart and my fridge and shelves as well. Not so anymore. I can spend $100 and get home and wonder what we are going to eat for the next week. Have you noticed the price of meat? Especially the "cheap" cuts? $4.99 and up for hamburger or chuck roast? Forget about buying fresh produce in winter or summer for that manner. The prices are about the same. And considering that most of our grocery story food is shipped from great distances  to our stores, they contain very little nutrition, as well as GMO's. Well, I have some very delicious and inexpensive meals that your family will love and will stretch that food budget.

Bean and Hamburger Casserole

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

Saute in a large skillet:

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup chopped vegetable of your choice
 1/4 to 1/2 lb. cooked hamburger (or ½ pint jar hamburger or other meat)
When the meat is brown, stir in:

1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 1/2 cups cooked beans, or one 15 oz. can beans of your choice
1 1/4 cups (about 1 can) tomato soup, tomato sauce or diced  tomatoes
1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1 cup hot water
2 cups cooked rice

Heat and simmer a few minutes.  Place in a greased casserole and bake 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with 1/2 cup grated or sliced cheese, if desired.  Return to the oven just until cheese melts. This is tasty and filling and you can add to it to your desire.

Lentil Soup

2 C. lentils
2-3 qts. water
2 slices uncooked bacon, cut into pieces
1/2 med. onion chopped or sliced
1/4 C chopped carrots
1/2 C chopped celery
3 TB chopped parsley, or 1 1/2 TB dried parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1- 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes, or whole tomates
2 TB wine vinegar

Wash lentils and place them in the pot with 2 qts. water, and the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes and vinegar. Cover and simmer for 1 & 1/2 hours. Add tomatoes breaking up if whole, add vinegar and simmer 30 min. longer. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. If you prefer thinner soup, as I do, add up to another Qt. of water. 

Variation: to make this meal a complete protein, add 1/2 C of rice during the last 30 min. of cooking, adding more water if needed.

Shrimp Casserole Supreme
 - Salad shrimp are inexpensive where I live, about $4.99/lb., so you can even use 3/4 lb. or canned salad shrimp to help cut costs.

1 lb. cooked salad shrimp
1 TB lemon juice
3 TB salad oil
¾ C uncooked rice
¾ - 1 C  half and half (whole milk of non-fat will produce a watery casserole, so if using, use less)
1/3 C slivered almonds (or sliced), if desired
1/2 Tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp pepper
Dash each cayenne and paprika
1 10 oz. can condensed tomato soup
1/3 C dry sherry or other white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook rice in about 1 1/3-1 ½  C water (add a pat of butter to the water) for about 18 min. or until water is absorbed. I like to keep the rice on the drier side since it will absorb some of the liquid while cooking in the oven. Meanwhile, place shrimp in a large (2 qt.) casserole dish and stir in lemon juice and oil and allow to rest for 10 min. Add the rest of the ingredients, along with the cooked rice, starting with about ¾ cup of the half and half. We like our casserole a little drier, so I use the lesser amount. If you want it a little soupier, use more of the half and half. I have used milk instead of half and half and it is just not the same. The original recipe calls for heavy cream, but we like it with half and half. I like to top off the casserole with a sprinkling of almonds and a dash or two of paprika before putting it in the oven. Bake for 50-55 min. This freezes very well and is easily doubled. With a salad and hot rolls or garlic bread, this makes a hearty meal.
 Serves 6.

Crock Pot Ranch Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (purchased on sale)
couple dashes paprika
2 tablespoons butter, melted 
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup 
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1/4 C chicken broth or water  
 1 (1 ounce) package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix, or 1/4 C your favorite homemade Ranch Mix (see mine below)
bacon, optional

Wash and dry chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks and place them in crock pot. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired. Drizzle melted butter of chicken. Add Cream of Chicken soup, cubed cream cheese, 1/4 C chicken broth or water, Ranch Dressing Mix, and gently fold to combine. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Stir to blend ingredients. Serve over warm buttered noodles. Top with crumbled bacon, if desired. This recipe easily doubles and freezes well.

Rose's Ranch Dressing Mix (adapted from The AntiHousewife

1/2 C dried parsley
2 Tb dried minced garlic
2 TB dried minced onion
1 TB dried dillweed
1/4 C onion powder
1/4 C garlic powder
1 TB salt or season salt (less to taste)
1 TB ground black pepper (or less to taste)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes

Combine all and keep in a tightly closed jar. 

To use:
1 generous TB Ranch Dressing Mix 
1 & 1/2 C mayonaise
1/2- 3/4 C  buttermilk or regular milk (more or less to consistency you like)
Let sit in fridge for at least 30 min. for flavors to combine and to soften dried ingredients. 

We also have some favorite dried food recipes that are tasty and economical. You can find the freeze dried and dry ingredients on my Thrive Life website  Back Country Cook. Here are a couple.

Beefy Cheese Taco (adapted from Rainy Day Food Storage)

In a one quart wide mouth Jar layer,.
½ Cup Powder Cheese Blend
3-4 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning (depending on how strong a flavor you want)
1 C freeze dried hamburger
¼ Cup Dehydrated Onions
2 Tablespoon Powderd Milk
Fill the rest of the Jar with Egg Noodles.

To store: Add oxygen absorber  or vacuum seal.

To Cook, bring 3 C water to a boil. Add jar ingredients, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 min. Add water if necessary so ingredients don't' become too dry and rehydrate properly. Serves 4.

Ground Beef Stroganoff (jar meal)

In a baggie combine:
3 TB sour cream powder
1/2 c dry milk
3 TB cornstarch
1 TB chicken or beef bouillon
1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp parsley
3/4 tsp garlic powder

In another baggie add:
1/2 C dried or freeze dried mushrooms

1 C freeze dried hamburger (or if making fresh-1/2 pint canned burger, or 1/2 lb. hamburger, cooked)
 1 1/3 C macaroni

To make jar meal: add macaroni to jar, layer ground beef on top, then add mushroom and seasoning baggie.

To make: soak mushrooms in hot water, cook macaroni and drain. Drain mushrooms, saving water and add enough water to equal 1 C. Put water and sauce mix in pot, simmer until thick, add water if too thick. Add meat, mushrooms and cooked macaroni, heat through. Garnish with parsley.

If you are interested in learning more about or purchasing Thrive Life foods, please let me know. You can save time, and yes, MONEY, with Thrive Life. See my blog here about freeze dried foods.  If you purchase through my website, I can save you money over the retail prices. Ask me about the unadvertised specials, and you'll save even more.