Canning Thousand Island Pickles

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple days now. This is at least my great-grandmother’s recipe, however it may be older, and I was feeling a bit iffy about sharing. Because this is a family recipe, it may not be approved my canning regulations, however my family has been canning these pickles for several generations and no one has gotten botulism. Before you can, make sure you are familiar with the process of canning. You have to make sure you get every step otherwise the jar may not seal and you’ll have lots of pickles to eat in such a short time. But when you do follow the steps, most jars do seal. To tell if a jar sealed, you check to see if the lid pops when you push the center of it.

These are sweet pickles due to the sugar in the mixture. When canning, I recommend using 2 of one color pepper and 1 of the other color bell pepper. The red and yellow add more color to the mixture and they don’t taste any different then the green. When you are heating the mixture, it can be helpful to use a fork to try the cucumbers. This will help in being able to identify when the pickles are done and need to be remove from the heat. You don’t want the pickles too crisp or too soggy. I did a double batch and ended up getting 16 1/2 jars, with 15 jars sealed. One jar was dropped when being removed from the canner and the top broke off when it hit the counter. The counter was clean so we could salvage the pickles, but you can’t re-can, so they joined the 1/2 can in the fridge.

  1. Quarter and slice 8 medium cucumbers. Core and dice 3 red/yellow bell peppers. Dice 4 medium onions. Add all diced veggies into a large stockpot.
  2. In the stockpot, add 1 tsp ground mustard, 2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp turmeric, 4 tsp salt, 3 cups sugar, and 2 cups apple cider vinegar.
  3. Place over medium high heat. Stir often and heat to a boil, but do not boil. Fill a large water bath canner 1/2 with water and heat over high heat. In a small saucepan, add your lids and place over medium high heat.
  4. Place mixture into heated and sterile jars. Leave 1/2 inch heat space. remove bubbles by running a metal knife around the outer edge. Wipe off the lip and threads of the jar. Add warmed lid on lip, then hand tighten jar rings.
  5. Place filled and sealed jars into your water bath canner. Drop into boiling water, cover with lid, and let can for 10 minutes.
  6. Lift jars out of hot water. Remove hot jars and place on 2 kitchen towels. Let cool until room temperature. Remove rings, label jars, check to make sure jars are sealed, and store sealed jar in cellar or cool dark area. If jar didn’t seal, place in fridge and eat within a week.

Potato Soup

This was my great-grandmother’s recipe for potato soup. She lived during the great depression, and this recipe is an obvious example of this. This was my first time making this soup, but this is the recipe exactly the way that she had it. It’s incredibly flavorful considering the ingredients and I highly recommend at least trying it. *The original recipe did say to use a 3qt sauce pan and fill it half way with potatoes, but as you can see with my photos, 3 qt wasn’t big enough for me, nearly over flowing when adding the wax beans and my inability to stir it.

  1. In a 4 qt dutch oven or larger, peel and cube potatoes into bite sized pieces. Fill the pan to 1.5 quarts with potatoes, or about 8 cups of potatoes. Slice thinly 1 medium onion or 2 small onions, and add to pot. Cover with water.
  2. Boil until potatoes are done, about 20-30 minutes. Add 1 can of wax beans and juice. Heat to boil. Add 1 can of evaporated milk, then heat, but do not boil. Add 2 Tbsp of salt and 2 Tbsp butter to taste. Remove from heat and serve.

Tuna Salad

Tuna salad is one of those classic recipes that everyone should know, but not everyone makes it the same way. My grandmother and great-grandmother used to make tuna salad the way they did because of the great depression and being so poor. Both had many children they had to feed, and tuna salad was one of the easiest ways to feed a family of 5-7 with very little money. They often made homemade chicken noodle soup to go with it, and it could easy fill their stomachs. I also know I make my tuna salad with more mayo than most, but that is just the easiest way my ancestors had to stretch it to feed such a large family. If you leave some juice with the tuna, it will have a bit more of a fishy flavor, and will make the tuna salad wetter. We also used to strain the tuna and give the juice to our cats when I was growing up; we’ve given some to Newman, but we’ve learned not to do that again!

  1. Open a can of tuna and strain the juice. Transfer into a serving bowl and smash apart with fork. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 1/2 cup of mayo. Stir until consistent.
  2. Dice 1/3 an onion and/or 1 stalk of celery (1/2 cup each), and add to sandwiches or mix into tuna salad. (Optional)
  3. Spread onto bread or toast and serve as a sandwich, or serve on a salad. Add additional salt to taste.

Creamed Dried Beef

Creamed dried beef is another meal I grew up with. Creamed dried beef is the sauce that is typically served over potatoes or toast. I’ve had it both ways and enjoy it. It’s also a filling meal and takes less than an hour. If you do choose to make this meal, you’ll want to rinse your plates if you don’t wash them right away, because when the sauce dries it makes it very hard to clean the plate. Also, the recipe is on the back of a dried beef packet, but we also add strained sweet peas. Dried beef can be found near the refrigerated lunch meat and hotdogs, and is good as a snack on it’s own too.

  1. Wash, peel, and cube 5 medium potatoes (about 5 cups). Place in a sauce pan, rinse again, and cover with an inch of additional water. Boil until cooked approx. 25 minutes, or until you stab it with a fork and the potato splits completely in half.
  2. After 10 minutes, melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large frying pan. Cut the dried beef into squares, add to butter, and cook till you see color.
  3. Add 4 Tbsp of flour and 2 cups of milk, stir till smooth. Add a can of drained sweet peas. Heat to a boil, stirring carefully, then remove from heat.
  4. Strain your potatoes.
  5. Scoop out potatoes onto your plate, smash down with a fork, add 1 tbsp of butter in smaller pieces over the top, then top with your creamed dried beef sauce. Salt to taste and enjoy! Caution it will be very hot, especially in the center!

Christmas Leftovers: Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped potatoes are a little old fashioned, however it’s an easy meal that only needs the time to cook. This was the best way for us to use up the rest of our ham from Christmas, and it makes enough to serve a whole family.
I used a 2 qt dish and it was a little too full. I also used only 3 Tbsp of flour, but it would be better to use at least 4 Tbsp and waited for the sauce to get thicker before pouring it over the sliced ham and potatoes.

  1. Slice up 6 medium sized potatoes (peeled or not), and slice up one small onion (1/2 cup). Cube up the ham into 1/2″ by 1/2″ cubes. Cut about 3 cups worth.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Layer the potatoes and ham in a 3 qt casserole dish. And in a 2 qt sauce pan, melt 4 Tbsp of butter and cook your onions til translucent.
  3. Then add 2 1/2 cups of milk, and 4 tbsp of flour. Slowly raise to a boil and cook to your desired thickness (at least an opaque sauce).
  4. Carefully pour over ham and potatoes in casserole dish. Cover and bake covered for 60 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

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