Pickling Mixes made by Ball

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered fo...

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With Ball’s great tasting pickle mixes and natural ingredients you can make the perfect pickle every time. Their mixes also work great for sweet pickles. I don’t know how I would survive without their wonderful premade mixes!

Bread & Butter Pickles
Makes four 32 oz. Jars or eight 16 oz. Jars


7 pounds (about 28 small to medium) pickling cucumbers
5 cups of Vinegar
5 Cups of Sugar

Slice off the ends of the Cucumbers and cut into ½ inch strips packed into jars tightly. In a medium saucepan combine Vinegar, Sugar and contents of the package and bring to a boil. Pour hot pickling liquid into Jars and let cool. A canning funnel would be helpful for this step. Wipe top of jars dry and place lids and rings on jars.For added flavor let the pickles stand for 2 weeks in the refrigerator unless fresh preserved before eating. You can refrigerate for up to three months or fresh preserve for up to one year.
Recipe for Pickled Beets

8 Pounds beets with roots and stems cut to one inch
5 Cups Vinegar
5 Cups Sugar
One package of Ball Bread and Butter Mix

And 4 Quart Jars Or 8 Pint sized Glass Jars With lids and Bands

Cover washed beets with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. About 20-40 minutes depending on beat size. Drain and let cool. Peel Beats and discard stems and roots. Leave small beets whole and quarter or thickly slice large beets. And pack tightly in Jars. Combine Vinegar and sugar and the contents of the pack in a medium sauce pan. Heat to a boil. Ladle liquid into jars. The canning funnel works great for this. Wipe rims of jars dry and place lid and ring on jar. Let cool about 30 minutes and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate up to 3 months or fresh preserve for longer storage.
And these two recipes are only a small fraction of the possibilities that you have with Ball Pickling Supplies.

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Cutlery Made by Rada

“A Cut above the Rest,” that statement is very true in my opinion.  Rada Cutlery has been around since 1948.  You probably even have a knife or a set of knives from Rada that belonged to your mother, father, grandmother or grandfather.  I personally have three or four Rada paring knives that belonged to my grandmother.  They are extremely sharp, durable, and handy knives. They have definitely stood the test of time in my family.

In addition to the standard Rada kitchen knives, Rada has a line of other cutlery items like the vegetable peeler, spatulas, pizza cutters, and the unique knife sharpener. If you need it for slicing, dicing, or cooking, they probably offer the utensil that you so desire.

What makes a Rada knife so sharp?

Rada constructs their knives from a special formula of T420 High Carbon Stainless Steel.  This formulation ensures the ability to apply the factory razor sharp edge and maximizes the edge retention properties when you use a Rada knife.

Are Rada products dishwasher safe?

It is best to hand wash and dry all cutlery to protect the cutting edge. Dishwasher detergents will also stimulate the oxidation of the aluminum handles. While oxidation is a natural process that causes no harm to aluminum it will cause the handles to darken over time.

Where can I buy Rada Cutlery?

To buy a Rada knife you really should hold it in your hand and feel how well balanced these knives are and just how naturally they fit in your hand.  However, these knives are so well made that I feel you can order them online if you can’t find a local retailer.

What makes the knife sharpener so unique?

Two especially hardened steel wheels are positioned at the optimum angle for quickly restoring a sharp edge. All you need to do is pull the blade through the wheels a few times and like magic, a sharp edge is restored!  Even if you don’t believe that Rada is the best cutlery brand out there, you have to try the knife sharpener.  It works great for any knife blade.

Unknown Rada Cutlery Benefits and Facts

  1. If you’re like me then you have difficulty cutting onions.  It’s not because of the onion’s texture or the crying gas, but the smell.  It sinks into your skin and it will not wash off, it has to wear off.  Well I have discovered that if you, carefully, rub the handle of a Rada knife in your hands it eliminates the smell of onion and garlic quickly effectively.
  2. Did you know it is bad luck to give away a knife?  Some folks believe that if you give away a knife the recipient will cut themselves with the knife.  My mom always told me she was letting me borrow her knives.  I even gave her a penny one time to break the superstition.
  3. A dull knife will cut you faster than a sharp one.  This may seem like a myth to most, but I know first hand that it is true.  Keep your knives sharp for your safety and your cooking benefit.

Rada Knife Gift Set

Rada has a product for almost anything you need in the kitchen utensil-wise.  I have a feeling that once you use a product from Rada Cutlery, you will agree they really are “A Cut above the Rest.”

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Using my Pressure Cooker for Walnuts

Preserved food in Mason jars

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Today I am going to talk about canning nuts. Why? Simply Because they are free and are everywhere in the woods. Black Walnuts are delicious and some say taste cheesy. White walnuts or “butternuts” are oilier and sweeter than black walnuts. The best part? Walnuts contain an omega-3 fatty acid and heart-healthy sterols. To get started you will need some canning supplies so read over the procedure before starting so that you can get a list of what you have and what you need.

The procedure:
1. Wash the jars and lids. The dishwasher is fine for the jars if it get hot enough to kill bacteria. Otherwise put the jars in water and bring it to a boil for about 10 minutes. The lids I put in a small pot of almost boiling water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic “lid wand” (available from Pressure cooker outlet) to pull them out.
2. Heat up the pressure cooker. Follow the instructions that came with the canner, however you’re going to fill it up with about 4-5 inches water and put the canning rack on the bottom. Put it on the stove over low heat and keep the lid off of the cooker. Preheat the oven.
3. Shell the nuts, I use a Black Walnut Cracker.
4. Bake the nuts Place a single layer of nuts on a baking pans and place in a 250°F oven. Stir them occasionally, heating only until the nuts are dry but not browned. You must warm the nuts up before canning them
5. Put the nuts into the jars Pack hot nuts into half pint or pint jars, leaving ½ inch head space. Do not add liquid to the canning jars. Wipe jar rims. Do this quickly so the nuts do not cool down.
6. Put the lids and rings on Put the lids on each jar and seal them by putting a ring on and screwing it down snugly. Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner. The water is probably boiled down to 3 inches. If it is lower than that, add more hot water to the canner. When all the jars that the canner will hold are in, put on the lid and twist it into place, but leave tube open, without the weight.
7. Put the jars in the canner and place the lid on the canner.
8. Let the canner vent steam for 10 minutes Put the heat on high and let the steam escape through the vent for 10 minutes to purge the airspace inside the canner.
9. Put the weight on and let the pressure build
10. After 10 minutes of letting seam vent, put the weight on allow the pressure to build to 11 pounds.
11. Process the nuts in the pressurized canner for 10 minutes Adjust the heat, as needed, to maintain pressure. Consult your instruction booklet for your canner’s exact processing time. If you can not find your owner’s manual, you can obtain find one online: Here is where to find some common manufacturer’s manuals: Pressure cooker outlet can help you there too.
12. Turn off the stove’s heat and let the canner cool down
13. Remove the jars, once the pressure has droped. Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool on a towel. Do this carefully without touching or bumping and let them sit overnight undisturbed. The jars are sealed if the lid has been sucked down which you will notice once they cool.

The jars of nuts are safe to store on the shelf, preferably a cool, dark place, for 1 to 2 years!

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Nutcracker Review Repost

Nuts such as walnuts (pictured above) are rich...

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I wanted to share my story with you on how I harvest walnuts and about a wonderful Hardshell Nutcracker I found last year that sure made that task a lot easier for me.

I usually wait until the nuts begin to drop off the tree before I start gathering them. It’s very important to wear gloves while handling walnuts. The outside husks will stain just about anything. Even though there are many ways to remove the green husks from around the walnut, I prefer to pile the nuts in my graveled driveway and drive over them with my car a few times. The outside husk comes right off and the shell stays unharmed. Once the husk is off I usually wash the unshelled nuts in a bucket to remove all the excess pulp and debris. I like to use fresh nut meat in my recipes so I usually let the nuts dry and store them in a cool place, basement or garage, until I am ready to use them. Sometimes I keep them in a mini tub on my coffee table, they are perfect to snack on during my favorite tv shows.

Now is the time to tell you about the amazing Hardshell Nutcracker I found last year at Red Hill General Store. It allowed me to crack those hard shell nuts with minimal effort. It was so easy to use – I just placed the nuts vertically between the holder and the adjustable screw and pressed the handle down. The nutcracker cracks the nut outward, leaving the nut meat in large pieces. Because I get to control the amount of pressure, I have used this nut cracker to crack black walnuts, pecans and macademia nuts. At first I was shattering the nut and the meat, but I learned quickly to ease off and voila, no more shattering. I prefer to buy locally or at the very least domestically. I was so glad to see The Hardshell Nutcracker has been made in the United States for 30 years! This nutcracker is constructed of solid steel and plated zinc to prevent rusting. It comes already mounted to a board for portability. The handle is so long that you can easily operate this nut cracker one handed. I loved this nutcracker so much that bought one for all the women in my family this year. Of course their husbands use it quite often too!

I hope this information will help someone harvest all those black walnuts quicker and easier this year. The holidays are coming and it’s time for me to get cracking. My family and friends are expecting those Black Walnut Apple Cakes and Pecan Pies I make every year. Below I would like to share one of my favorite recipes with you.


1 c. Wesson oil
2 c. sugar
3 c. diced apples (Granny Smith)
1 c. chopped black walnuts
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. plain flour

Mix together eggs, oil, sugar, apples, and nuts in large bowl and set aside. Combine all dry ingredients and add to first mixture, being careful not to over-mix. Pour into tube pan and bake at 350 degrees for 80-90 minutes.

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Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron pan

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Lodge Cast Iron Cookware has been a favorite product of my family for as long as I can remember. And, since Lodge has been manufacturing their cookware for well over 100 years (since 1896) I don’t have to tell you that some of my cast iron cookware pieces are what some would consider “ancient”; as they have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of my favorite pieces of the cast iron cookware are the skillets and of course my Dutch oven; especially since I have a family of five to feed. I can remember my grandmother cooking dinner for the whole family and she would drag out her big cast iron skillet and make a huge pan of cornbread. Boy was that the best cornbread I ever tasted. Speaking of cornbread, Lodge Manufacturing in conjunction with Martha White hold what they call a National Cornbread Festival each year in South Pittsburg, TN in which contestants must use Lodge cast iron pieces and Martha White products. This contest is nothing to sneeze at – especially since the grand prize is $5,000 as well as lots of other gifts from both Martha White and Lodge Manufacturing.

Recently I was expecting a large crowd for dinner and I thought, “What in the world am I going to cook for crowd this big?” and then it hit me. I could cook up something that would go a along way and use my Lodge Logic Cast Iron Dutch Ovens to get the task done without messing up every dish in my kitchen. So for this dinner I fixed chili beans in one of my Dutch ovens and an apple crisp in the other. The reviews were fantastic. Everyone loved the chili beans as well as the apple crisp and was amazed that I could produce that amount of food in only two dishes. So, I thought it would be a good ideal to share one of these recipes with everyone out there. I would share my recipe for chili beans but since it is considered a family secret, I had better keep that one to myself! I also have two Dutch oven cookbooks, Dutch Oven Cookin’ and the Cast Iron Cuisine Cookbook and both are great cookbooks for using with your cast iron pieces – for recipes and helpful hints.

To start with I spray my Lodge cast iron cookware with cooking spray to make sure I don’t have anything to stick to the pan. Now, I always buy my Lodge cast iron cookware seasoned and ready to use but if you prefer buying yours unseasoned then you can season your cast iron fairly easy. To season your cast iron all you have to do is wash it thoroughly in hot, soapy water (remember, no harsh detergents) and scrub with a stiff brush, rinse and dry it completely. Then coat the entire surface (both inside and out) of your cast iron piece with vegetable shortening or vegetable oil and place in your oven, which has been preheated to 350 degrees. Bake for 1 hour and then leave your piece in the oven until it has completely cooled. Now you are ready to cook in your new cast iron cookware.

Here is my favorite recipe to use with my lodge logic cookware:

Apple Crisp:

6 apples
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tsp. Nutmeg
3 cups Quaker quick oats
1 cup All-Purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. Salt
1-cup butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice and core apples, you can peel them if you like but I normally leave the peelings on. If you are in a hurry grab a couple cans of apple pie filling and use them in place of the fresh apples. As you can see from the pictures, I cheated and used canned apple pie filling in this one. This saves you some time and no one will ever know the difference. In a medium sized bowl, combine apples, cinnamon and nutmeg and toss to coat apples thoroughly. Set aside until later. In another medium sized bowl combine quick oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter; mix by hand until well blended. Spray your Dutch oven with cooking spray. Now press half of the crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of your Dutch oven. Pour the apples onto the crust and cover them with the remaining crust mixture. Put the lid on your Dutch oven and place it into the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. This is great served warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 6.

Note: I normally use the 5 qt. Dutch oven but you can easily double the recipe and use the 9 qt. Dutch oven for large crowds.

Cleaning and caring for Lodge cast iron cookware is so easy and that is another reason I am so partial to it. All I do to clean mine is to place it in hot, soapy water – mild detergent only as harsh detergents will remove the seasoning from the cast iron pieces – and scrub it with a good stiff brush. Then I rinse it off and towel dry it completely. That’s it, it is now ready to store until the next time you use it. Never place your cast iron pieces in cold water as this can warp or crack them. If your cast iron piece begins to show a little rust all you need to do is clean it like you normally would and season it as if you bought it unseasoned (I will talk more on how to season your cast iron later in this forum). Oh, as a reminder, if you have a piece that has a lid to it make sure you place a paper towel in between the two pieces so that air can circulate them.

Now that you know how great cast iron cookware is I hope that you invest in at least one piece to see what all the hype is about.

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Pecan Nutsheller Helps Make Valentine’s Pecan Pie

So those of you who are looking to use nutcrackers for your valentine’s day dishes:

So you bought hand held nut crackers, brought it home and tried to use it on a black walnut. How did that turn out? Well if it was anything like it was when I tried it, the nut went flying across the room and you pinched your finger! Believe it or not, there are many types of Nut Crackers out there. As we already know there are hand held nut crackers, but did you know there are Nut Crackers designed for soft shell and hard shell nuts? There are even electric Nut Crackers! I decided to check out different types of Nut Crackers and here is what I found.

Soft Shell Nut Crackers

These Nut Crackers are best for pecans, English walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, etc. They’re made to use just enough force to break the shell without crushing the nut. You won’t even need a nut pick when you use these types of Nut Crackers. I found one that was featured on the Martha Stewart Show. It’s called the Duke Easy Pecan Nut Cracker. It works great! It’s adjustable for different size nuts, comes already mounted to a hardwood board and is easy to assemble. I bought one for my grandpa. He loves pecans and he says he’ll never use a hand held Nut Cracker again! Soft shell Nut Crackers are on the low end of the price scale as well.

Hard Shell Nut Crackers

You’ll want a hard shell nut cracker for black walnuts, hickory nuts, butternuts, etc. These usually have a longer lever so you use less effort to crack the nut. They have a place to put the nut so it won’t slide and they’re already mounted to a hardwood board. As long as you don’t put too much pressure on the lever, the nut will not be crushed. You can use these on softer shell nuts as well. I found a product called the Hardshell Nutcracker that works the best for me. It’s been made in the US since 1980. I like supporting our home economy so that’s why I tried it first. It worked great for me. At first I found I was shattering some of the nuts, but when I put less pressure on the lever that stopped. Hard Shell Nut Crackers last for a very long time.

Electric Nut Crackers

Electric Nut Crackers are great if you have arthritis in your hands or you have children munching on nuts. They operate with one hand, little to no adjustment needs to be made depending on the nut size, and they’re very reliable. With each rotation of the motor a nut is cracked and the nut is expelled. These are great if you need a lot of nuts cracked fast. I can already smell some home made pecan pie in my future! Due to the nature of this equipment, they are more expensive. The products I’ve found run between $170.00 and $370.00.

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