This will be my “almost” last post for the week, which makes me sad since I really enjoy writing and sharing new things with you each week. AS many of you know, tomorrow begins the time with family as we are up and away in the Twin Cities saying goodbye to our Grandmother’s earthly body. Had a few pretty sad moments today…..crazy how grief can just sneak up on you and whack you upside the head in the strangest places and moments.

 

    Its not that, for her, I am not happy that her pain is over, and that she has gone to the one place she longed for more than being with all of us. Its just that we will really REALLY feel the loss of her presence, her questions, her laugh, her voice, her hugging our children and playing with them, seeing them grow up loving on her. Losing someone you love is tough.

Really really tough.

   Since we moved down here about 8 years ago we have not seen this Grandma, or actually the whole family, as much as we used to. We would visit and call as much as we could, but that is something we had to come to terms with over the subsequent years…now it is painful to consider, knowing it would have been a little more time with her. Sometimes the pain can come sweeping down in other ways too–today as I was looking for pictures of her, I came across one from when my oldest was really little. My mother had been in a terrible car accident in Colorado, and I had to suddenly leave my medically fragile small daughter (she could not fly), and my young husband to make it to her bedside since they thought she was going to pass away. Grandma Bea stepped in and spent “the most amazing week she ever had” with everyone. It made a really difficult decision on my part so much easier knowing everyone was in Grandma’s care, and I never forgot that sweet sacrifice on her part.

 I truly will miss her.
 Every day.

   We had two bigg-ish things happen today here at The Welcoming House–literally and figuratively. The Welcoming House Blog had one of its first times ever of jumping over 800 READERS in a single day. That is some pretty amazing stuff to a simple rural girl with a heart for canning, sharing, encouraging, and walking people through life here at my welcoming house. I am excited, again, for the future of what this holds and to see what will happen between now and Christmas with this blog. I was blessed to have been invited to share on the radio program on Saturday, and had a great time doing it. I am very excited to see what is going to happen with my review of the Tropical Traditions Top-Of-The-Line Coconut oil I will be talking about next week, as well as a foray into dehydrating different foods and then using them in full meals with recipes for you.(even *gasp* HAMBURGER)

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   But also just as exciting was logging onto my email today and finding that I am receiving more and more emails from YOU asking questions, making comments, suggesting topics. Thank you SO much for taking the time to reach out and send me an email! Please know that I keep all the suggestions in a folder, and pull from them when I need an idea for a blog post. That can happen more frequently than you know, especially when I am worn out from all that I do around here! I also got another exciting email today that made me cheer—my Wonder Mill from the Grain Mill Company is on its way, and I will soon be holding it in my grubby (aka floury) little hands!!! I have been brainstorming all the wonderful ideas and recipes I will be sharing with you and I tell you what, it is going to be hard to limit them to just FIVE ideas to submit for their contests!! I hope you will be waiting as excitedly as I am for that coming early next month.

   Well to finally get to today’s post, I wanted to share with you two more ‘meal in a jar’ recipes that we use around here quite frequently. Now, know that this is just scratching the surface, and that I have an e-book in progress that is ALL meals in a jar for those canning enthusiasts out there. But these two,and the two I shared yesterday, are the top four in our rotation. I also have canned meatballs, and sweet and sour chicken or pork, but these two round out the list of meals we use almost every weekend.

   I hope that your family enjoys them as much as our family does. I will probably do a post late Friday or Saturday. Please pray for our family as we walk through this time of sorrow this week.

Many Blessings to you and yours,

Heather

 
Heather’s Beef Stew in a Jar
 
in a Wide mouth Quart Jar, place the following ingredients:
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sea salt
1 sprig oregano, or about 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp basil leaves
1 small pinch thyme leaves, dried
1 bay leaf
**toss 1/4 cup non -instant tapioca with 1 cup cubed raw beef chunks and add to jar
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup sliced carrot coins
1/4 cup diced onions
1 cup diced red potatoes with skin left on, scrubbed well
There will be plenty of room at the top of the jar, and that is good, because you want a good amount of juice to thicken when you get ready to heat and serve this meal. Top each jar to 1 inch head space with beef broth, wipe rims with vinegar, place on heated lids and rings, and process for 90 minutes in a pressure cooker. Everything will combine in the jar and to serve, you pour out contents of jar into a pan, reserving a small amount of broth (about 1/4 cup), stir in 1 Tbs of cornstarch until smooth and milky, then add to the remaining ingredients in the pan. Heat until thick and bubbly, adding more cornstarch to liquid you remove and then adding it back to pan if you want it thicker. The Handy Hubby likes to have his thick enough to stand a spoon up in. But this is the way I like it.
Finally, we love:
Tomato, Basil and Onion Comfort Soup
 
Into each Quart jar,place the following:
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp tarragon leaves
1/2 tsp of black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
4 whole basil leaves or 1 tsp crushed basil
**taking 1 1/2 cups diced tomato chunks, and 1 1/2 cups onion dices, measure out 1/2 cup at a time and layer these throughout the jar alternating layers. Sometimes, depending on if I get a good sale on celery, I will add a couple Tbs in between the layers, which makes for a very pretty presentation, and it pretty much cooks down to thickener and flavor by the time the soup is finished processing. There will again be plenty of space at the top of the jar, but should not be more than a couple inches. I normally stop adding when we reach the top of the shoulders of the jar, and then top with veggie stock to the bottom thread and finish up.
  • This soup is also actually excellent if you add about 1/4 cup bacon crumbles or sausage to it if you want to change up the recipe (but the you then need to process it for 90 minutes with the meat included to be sure it is safe for shelf stability)
  • Top with veggie stock, or chicken stock if you prefer. Process for 40 minutes (veggie stock), or 45 minutes (meat stock) for the regular recipe listed above.
  • When we go to eat this we actually use a hand blender and puree, topping the thick soup with homemade croutons and cheese shreds, or plain yogurt and chives with a thick slice of homemade bread.
Hope you really enjoy it!! 
We look forward to these every year!!