Valentine’s Chocolate Pie

For Valentine’s day this year we decided to do a nice candlelit dinner at home.  I just didn’t want to do the whole restaurant thing this year.  And we never do candlelit dinners at home (although we may start now, cause I loved it!).  Neither of us wanted to do the task of cooking though, so we ordered take out instead.  Steak dinner for me, ahi tuna and veggies for Greg.  They were both delicious 🙂Feb13-Valentines (11)We didn’t cook dinner, but I did want to make a dessert for us to enjoy.  I looked through my recipes and found one for chocolate pie that I got from my Nana’s house.  I’d never baked it before, but I’m glad I did.  It was yummy!!!  So here’s the recipe….

Easy Chocolate Pie

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (5oz) can evaporated milk
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 stick margarine, melted (or butter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Uncooked pie crust

Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.  Roll out an uncooked pie crust into dish, and pour mixture into crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 mins. Allow to chill, then serve.

That’s it.  I mean, really.  Could it be any easier? 🙂

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 Ok, you ready for a funny story?  So I’m out at Walmart getting ingredients for the pie then I wanted to get some fresh flowers for the table.  I kinda figured Greg was coming home with flowers, but I wanted the table to be ready and set for him too.  And you can’t have too many fresh flowers, right?  So I decide to go to this new place in town, Fresh Market.  I figured they’d have some pretty unique flowers, not just roses, which is all Walmart had.  Call me crazy, but I’m not a fan of bouquets of roses.  I like variety.  So I go to Fresh Market, and I’m standing looking through some flowers, picking them up and making decisions.  I look up, and…..standing 5 feet in front of me completely oblivious to my presence, is Greg…picking out flowers.  I called him out, and we both just died laughing!  He was totally busted!!  But props to him, he picked a great place to pick out flowers.  You cannot go wrong there! 🙂Feb13-Valentines (9)So we enjoyed a lovely candlelit dinner at home.  No tv.  No cell phones.  It was fantastic 😉  And before we even started dinner, Greg was dying to give me my present.  He handed me a bag and I pulled out this book. Feb13-Valentines (12)Yep!  Guess what that means?  WE ARE GOING TO SAN FRAN!  I told him I was taking a week of vacation from work between this semester and summer semester.  I wanted to just have a week free from work and school, and told him I wanted to take a trip to the beach or something just to get away.  But I’ll take San Francisco!  We are so excited!!  He did good!

Happy Valentine’s day to me and my sweetie.  4 down, many many more to go!

Dill Pickles from the Farm Girl

With all the cucumbers accumulating in our kitchen, I decided it was time to make pickles.  Last year I only made sweet pickles (which everyone in my family loves!).  But Greg didn’t like them too much.  He’s more of a dill kinda guy.  So, I found 2 dill pickle recipes that I thought I would give a try.  One came from my handy-dandy Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (I figured I couldn’t go wrong there).  The other came from another blogger that I just adore…Sherelle Christensen.  I’ve tried several of her recipes and so far they’ve never failed me.  So I figured her pickle recipe must be pretty good too.

I started with Sherelle’s version first, which you can find here. I don’t really know how many pounds of cucumbers I had, but there were about 20-25 cucumbers to work with.  I split and did half with Sherelle’s recipe and saved half to do with the Better Homes and Gardens one.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4c. white vinegar (I actually used apple cider vinegar, cause that’s why my tried and true BHG recipe book said is best for pickles…let’s hope they’re right)
  • 1c. pickling salt
  • 12c. water
  • 16 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 8 sprigs of dill (or dried weed)
  • 8 heads of dill (or dried dill seed)

Ok, I had to do a little research here (and I’m still not 100% on this, so if you are more familiar feel free to leave a comment and help a girl out!).  If you buy fresh dill, the sprigs are the little twiggy leaves on the main stem.  The head is the end part that creates seeds.  I was very disappointed when Publix didn’t carry fresh dill in their produce section, so I had to settle for the dried versions from the spice section.  So if you know where I can buy fresh dill locally, let me know! 🙂

So the deal with dried spices is (again, had to do some research), 1 tsp of dried spice is typically equivalent to 1 Tbsp. of fresh (that’s the general rule of thumb).  There are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon, so it’s a 3:1 ratio.  The dried versions are much more concentrated, so you use less.  1 sprig of fresh dill will give you approximately 1 tsp of dill weed.  So, if you are using dry spices, you’ll need 1/3 tsp dill weed.  Whew, did that make sense?  Believe me, my brain hurt after trying to figure all this out, and I’m still sceptical whether I did my math right.  Clearly the easy answer is FIND FRESH DILL.  haha

And if that’s not confusing enough, a sprig of dill= dill weed; a head of dill= dill seed.  So you still have to buy 2 different types of spices.  I didn’t make this connection until after I got home from Publix, so I just used dill weed.  Lord, help me, I hope these pickles turn out right!!!

DIRECTIONS:

OK, back to the recipe.  The first step is to clean the cucumbers and scrub them with a brush to get all the prickly spurs off.  I think I will be purchasing a vegetable brush in the near future.  My basic kitchen sink brush was a little weak for the job 😉  Next you’ll slice them up how you like.  I decided to cut some of them into spears and some into slices.

July6-DillPickles (11) July6-DillPickles (12)July6-DillPickles (9)July6-DillPickles (8)As you cut them, place them into a large bowl and when you finish, sprinkle with pickling salt (approx 1/3c.) and give them a good toss.  Place the bowl into the fridge for about 2 hours.  This will drain some of the fluid out of the cucumbers and allow the pickling salt to it’s magic.

When you are ready for the canning process, begin sterilizing your jars by bring the water in the canner to a boil and placing jars into the canner.  Also, place your lids in a small pot on low heat to allow them to simmer.

Remove pickles from the fridge and drain the water (but save the water and use it in the brine for canning).

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In a large pot, combine vinegar, water (part of which will be the water you drained), and 2/3c. pickling salt and bring the brine to a boil.

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In each jar (I used quarts), drop 1 clove of garlic (cut in halves) and a head of dill (or 1/3tsp dill weed).

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Fill the jar with your pickles, and place a sprig of dill (I just sprinkled a tiny bit more dill weed) and 2 more garlic halves.  Pour hot brine into the jar, leaving a half-inch headspace. 

Seal and process the water bath for 10 mins.  Allow pickles to sit for approx. 2 weeks prior to eating for optimal flavor 🙂July6-DillPickles (1)

pickles

Southwestern Tilapia

We have found another tilapia recipe we like 🙂  Yep, that makes 3.  I found it on a website called He and She Eat Clean, and they actually got it from the Whole Foods‘ phone app.  First of all, I didn’t know Whole Foods had a recipe app!  I will definitely be adding it to my phone.  Anyways, this one was called Southwestern Tilapia.

SouthwestTilapiaThis recipe called for 4 fillets, and we only eat 2 in a single meal.  So I halved it initially.  But then we also didn’t want it to be really spicey, so I quartered the chili powder and cayenne pepper.  The recipe below is how I altered it for the two of us!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • approx. 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • lime juice

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Mix spices together in a small bowl.
  • Drizzle olive oil over each fillet.
  • Sprinkle the spices mixture over each fillet.
  • Drizzle lime juice over each fillets.
  • Flip fillets over and repeat steps 3-5.
  • Bake for approx. 10-12 mins until fillets flake easily.

It was so easy too!  I mean, making sure I did the math right when measuring the spices was literally the most time consuming part.  And by time consuming, I mean 10-15mins.  Quick, easy and yummy.  Can’t beat that! 🙂

Baby shower RECIPES!

I made all kinds of new things for the baby shower I hosted last weekend.  And thankfully, every one of them turned out to be a hit!  The sliders recipe I got from Pinterest, and the sausage balls came from my mom and the caramel dip is from our wedding caterer.  Funny story about this caramel dip.  I made 3 batches (none of which were great) before finally just picking up the phone and begging my wedding caterer to give me her recipe.  Thankfully, she was happy to share 🙂

HAM AND CHEESE SLIDERS from The Girl Who Ate Everything

24 white dinner rolls- I used SaraLee

24 pieces honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese-I just used deli sliced cheese and tore them in half
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup miracle whip
Poppy seed sauce
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion-you can actually cut up some onion slices, but I just used dried onion from the spice rack
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and miracle whip. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them close together into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Brush evenly over all of the sandwiches. You do not have to use all of the sauce. Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.

SWEET CARAMEL DIP from Pat Meads (my wedding caterer)
1 (14oz) package Kraft Caramel cubes
1/2 cup evaporated milk
8 oz. sour cream

Carefully melt the caramel cubes in the microwave (on low heat setting), stirring after each minute until fully melted.  Or melt them on the stovetop on low heat stirring as needed to prevent burning.  When almost melted, add evaporated milk and stir until incorporated.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.  Store in refrigerator approximately 2-3 weeks.  Re-warm as desired for dipping.
*This recipe can easily be doubled if you cook on the stovetop.*

SAUSAGE BALLS from Elaine Graves
1 lb. hot or mild sausage
3 cups Bisquick
10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded.

Let sausage and cheese come to room temperature. Mix all ingredients together by hand. Roll into bite size balls and place onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees approximately 15 mins until lightly browned.
*These can easily be prepared ahead of time, frozen and then baked when needed.  Set them out to thaw before baking.*

Pear Pickin’

I have the fondest memory of my mom, my sisters and my Nana all going apple picking one August many years ago.  I’m sure I was about 12 years old, and we drove to an orchard outside of town, and filled our garden baskets with as many gala apples as we could hold.  It was so much fun!  Even to this day, I only buy gala apples (first of all, cause they taste better), but partially just because of this childhood memory I have held onto.  Now what does that have to do with pears?  Not really anything (besides the pickin’ part!), I just wanted to share that memory 🙂

But we do have a pear tree in our backyard, and Greg has told me for the past few years that it actually bears fruit.  Well, Greg never bothered picking and eating the pears, but since I’m obviously on a farming kick this summer, I decided we will actually eat some fruit!  Last Friday I put on my gardening boots, grabbed the biggest basket and bowl we have, and started picking.  Some of the pears are still a little small, so I left those on the tree, and tried just picking the bigger ones.  I filled both baskets and then some!  And that was only what I could reach at an arm’s length.  I’ll have to get a big ladder this week to reach some of the higher branches.  All these pears went into a cardboard box, and into a cool spot in the house where they will finish ripening.  I did some pear research, and read that you actually want to pick pears when they are just firm enough on the tree to make a small indention with your thumb.  Then you bring them inside, place them in a cool spot, and let them continue to ripen indoors.

With that in mind, I had picked a small batch last week that has been sitting in a large bowl in the laundry nook, so they were nice and ripe on Friday.  I decided with this batch I would attempt to can them.  I LOVE pears, so if I can stock up our pantry full of canned pears for the winter, I will be a happy camper 🙂  Having never canned pears yet, I did a little research and mainly just went by the instructions in the Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving that I have. The process itself was really simple, however I grossly underestimated the time it takes to peel and cut pears.  (And keep in mind, this was a small batch of pears).  It took me TWO HOURS to peel and cut those suckers!  I finally just pulled up a stool to the counter to try to get comfy.  Next time, I think I’ll set up shop on the back porch and at least enjoy some fresh air during the process.

 

But anyways, you peel them, cut them into slices and cut out the core.  As you cut them up, drop the slices into a large bowl of anti-browning solution, which consists of:

  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt (I went ahead and used canning salt)
 Once you get all your pears cut up and you have them soaking in anti-browning solution, you’ll need to start heating your clean jars and lids and make your syrup for canning.  You can do a light, medium, or heavy syrup depending on how much sugar you use. Not knowing which would be best, I opted for the medium syrup.  But here’s the breakdown if you want something different.
Sugar Syrup

Syrup Sugar Water Yield
Light 2 cups 6 cups 7 cups
Medium 3 cups 6 cups 6 1/2 cups
Heavy 4 cups 6 cups 7 cups

Begin heating the syrup on the stovetop.  Meanwhile, pour some of the pears into a colander to drain the anti-browning solution, then drop them into the syrup.  Bring syrup to a boil, and cook pears for approx. 10 mins.

Once cooked, fill your heated jars with pear slices, packing them in tight, then pour syrup over to fill the jar to the 1/2inch headspace.

 Remove air bubbles by stirring and pressing against the pairs with a plastic knife.  Then wipe the rim of the jar clean, seal with the lid, and replace jar into the canner over simmering water.



Once all your jars are filled,  bring the water bath to a boil, then lower cans into the canner and process for 20 mins.  Remove from the canner and let them seal!  I haven’t tried any yet, but they sure look good 🙂

 

Homemade Sweet Salsa

Ingredients:
– 15 medium tomatoes
– 1 green bell pepper
– 1 red bell pepper
– 1 jalapeno pepper 
– 5 cups chopped onion (I used 2 sweet onions, but you could use 1 yellow, 1 red onion)
– 5 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 yellow banana peppers (I couldn’t find any, so mine didn’t have this)
– 1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
– 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1/4 cup lime juice
– 4 tsp. pickling salt
– 1 tsp. pepper
– 1 large can tomato paste (I actually added an additional 6oz. can)
– chili powder (if desired for extra spice)
– 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

I prepped my tomatoes following these steps here. Then I chopped them in the food processor.  Luckily, a co-worker of mine warned me about working with spicy peppers.  Those boogers will burn your skin!  So, either buy some gloves to work with or you can do what I did and just slip a sandwich bag over your hands before cutting the jalapeno pepper.  I just cut the stem and bottom off, and then the inside looks just like a bell pepper.  Just cut out the white seedy portion and toss it in the food processor.

I like my salsa creamy and smooth, not chunky. So all my veggies (peppers, onions, and garlic) were tossed into the food processor then into a stockpot.  Then, to make sure all the spices were mixed in well, I put the tomato paste, pickling salt, pepper and a pinch of chili powder together in the food processor.  I cut the stems off the cilantro, chopped up the leaves, and tossed them into the stockpot.

All that plus the rest of the ingredients went into the stockpot to simmer for approx 45mins-1 hour, stirring often!  BE SURE TO COOK ON LOW!  I thought I would start mine on high and bring it to a boil then turn it down to simmer.  You might can still do this, but make sure you are stirring it to prevent it from burning on the bottom.  I have a nice burnt spot on the bottom of my stockpot :/  So, watch it carefully!

To can, process in a water bath 35 mins for pint jars, 45 mins for quart jars. This batch made approx 5 pint-sized jars.
For canning steps, read here: Canning Tomatoes.  Just follow the basic steps, skipping the tomato specific ones.

How to peel tomatoes (the right way)

After a few messy attempts to peel tomatoes for canning, I thought there must be an easier way to do this.  All it took was a quick google search and I found out there really IS a right way to blanch and peel tomatoes.  I’ll spare you the method I was using, which was basically drop the tomatoes in a boiling pot, peel the skins and cut.  Trust me, you’ll have a huge mess on your hands with tomato juice running everywhere.  So, if you’re canning tomatoes, follow these steps.

Step 1: Cut the core out around the stem.
Step 2: Slice a shallow “X” on the bottom of the tomato, just enough to break through the skin.

 Step 3: blanch the tomatoes by dropping them in a boiling pot for 10-30 seconds, till you notice the peels starting to slip off.

Step 4: remove from boiling water and drop into ice water to stop the cooking process.

Step 5: Peel the skins off (which is much easier with the “Xs” cut at the bottoms and the core already removed). They will slip right off!

Step 6: Cut tomato in half, then squeeze out the juicy seedy portion (or scoop out with a small spoon)
 Then just dice and can them to your heart’s desire!  I made this batch into creamy sweet salsa 🙂  Don’t worry, the recipe is coming!

Sweet Pickles- Step 4

Once the pickles have sat for 10 days in vinegar, take them out of the fridge and drain off the vinegar.  Place the pickle slices back in the jar and for each of 3 days, add 3 cups of sugar.  Shake the jar to evenly cover with sugar and return to the fridge.  The sugar will dissolve creating a syrup.  Once those 3 days are complete, that’s it!

 According to my great uncle, these actually taste better if you wait 2-3 weeks after the last step.  Although, I’m not sure we can wait that long to give them a try.  So far it’s been 2 days since I finished them, so we’ll put them to the test tomorrow, maybe 🙂

Homemade spaghetti sauce

EDIT:  MORE DETAILED STEPS ADDED!

 Last week I took our batch of tomatoes I picked from our garden and canned some diced tomatoes and then made the rest into a spaghetti sauce. 

The canning process (although it seemed long) was successful.  Both my cans sealed up nice and tight, but of course I didn’t want to claim it as a total success until we had a chance to eat what I had canned.  Well last night we decided to make spaghetti, so we used the sauce I made.  It was SO good!  I was actually a little skeptical of it just because it was something new, but we were both very pleased.  This will probably be our go-to recipe now for spaghetti sauce.  We just browned 1.5 lbs of ground beef on the stovetop and dumped it into a stockpot.  Then we added about half the jar of sauce, 1 6-oz. can of tomato paste and about 12 oz. water (because it started getting too thick) and stirred it all together.


The recipe for the sauce can be found on this amazing blog- My Crazy Life (as a Farmer’s Wife).  Please take a look at it! First of all, I’m IN LOVE with this lady’s blog! It’s so bright and colorful, and her photographs are gorgeous.  It’s light and airy.  Not to mention I’m swooning over all her vintage country stuff.  I don’t know how many acres of land they own, but her, her husband and their 4 kids live in this adorable house with a red barn, and they have tons of gardens where they grow all their own fresh fruit and veggies.  I’m obsessed.


Sigh.  Ok, back to the recipe.  It’s her Tangy Spaghetti Sauce recipe, but since I’m not a huge fan of really spicey stuff, I took out a few things to make it not-so-tangy.  The items in italics I left out of our sauce.  So if you like it tangy, keep those items in there 😉  Oh, and since I only had about 4 cups of tomatoes once I got them chopped (it calls for 16 cups), I quartered all the ingredients as well. (and I filled 1 quart jar for canning…plus some that I just threw into the fridge).

First, I diced all the tomatoes I had.  Ideally, you should probably remove the skins first, using the boiling then ice water bath method described here, but I honestly just forgot to until I was almost done chopping them all.  So of course I searched online and found out it’s not entirely necessary to skin the tomatoes (it just helps cut back on possible bacteria, and keeps the chewy skins out if you’re picky about that!).  But I did read that if you finely chop the tomatoes in a food processor, the skins are less noticeable later.  So that’s what I did.  I diced, then tossed them all into the processes for a few seconds, careful not to process too much and turn it into mush.

 And I found out this method of cutting tomatoes was much easier (and less messy!!) than my last method.  Cut all around the core in a “C” shape, trying to avoid the watery core and seeds. If I got seeds in the cut pieces, I just dug them out with the knife so you’re left with just the firm flesh.
 
 

This time I ended up with roughly 6 cups of diced tomatoes.  They went into the food processor, along with onions and green peppers, and then all the ingredients went into a stockpot.

 
 

Tangy Spaghetti Sauce for Canning
 -3 medium onions, chopped
-2 cups green bell peppers, chopped
-1 cup banana peppers, chopped
-2 pkg. fresh sliced mushrooms (neither Greg or I like mushrooms, so those got the boot)
-4 cloves minced garlic
-16 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped
-3(12oz) cans tomato paste
-1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
-3 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 tablespoon dried oregano
-4 teaspoons canning salt
-2 teaspoons dried basil
-1 teaspoon black pepper
-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon cumin


Mix all the ingredients in a large pot on the stove. Heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. If canning, fill clean, sterilized jars to ½” headspace at the top. Secure with lids. Process for 35 minutes for quart jars in a water bath.  

Enjoy delicious homemade spaghetti 🙂


Canning tomatoes

Today, I tried my skills at canning.  This was a first for me, so I read several sources on how to do it, and decided to buy this book from Walmart with all kinds of step-by-step directions and recipes for all kinds of things you can can.  I also bought a box of quart size wide mouth Ball jars, and a jar lifter (which is used to lift the hot jars out of the boiling water bath).

Now, I’m not gonna try to make this a detailed tutorial, because for 1) this is a complicated process and there are lots of steps!  And 2) this is the first time I’ve done this, and until I taste what I canned, I can’t guarantee I did everything 100% correct. But I will give you the rundown of what I did!  And I basically just followed these steps in the Blue Book.

First thing is to gather all your supplies.  You need:
    – jars (various sizes depending on what or how much you are canning)
    – lids and bands
    – water bath canner (or a deep stockpot will work if only doing 2-3 jars)
    – jar lifter
    – canning funnel

Before you really begin, you must clean all your jars, lids, and bands.  I just ran my jars through the sanitize cycle of the dishwasher.  If you do this option, leave your jars in the dishwasher until ready to use. This keeps them warm, which is important. If you hand wash them, heat the jars in simmering hot water on the stove until ready to use.  Because I didn’t want to damage the adhesive ring on the lids, I hand washed those. Then to heat them, I put them in simmering water until ready to use.  The giant black pot in the picture below is a canning pot for the water bath.  It holds up to 7 quart size jars.  But since I’m not doing massive amounts of canning, I was able to get by with the stockpot I already owned. So I may be returning the giant canner (which I simply found at Walmart).

 

Next thing is to prep the tomatoes for canning.  I had about 12 tomatoes, which to my surprise only filled 1 quart jar.  I can’t imagine the mass of veggies people grow in order to can multiple jars at one time! That’s a ton of tomatoes!!  You need to remove the skins, because they don’t preserve well. EDIT: After several trial and errors of learning how to can this summer, I’ve learned there is a better method for prepping tomatoes. Please follow these steps HERE!   So, blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30-60 seconds, until the skins start peeling off.  Remove them from the boiling water and drop them into an ice bath to halt the cooking process and ease skin removal. Unfortunately, 2 seconds after I took the below pic, I found out my wire basket didn’t actually fit down into my stock pot, so I just dropped the tomatoes in.

Peel the skins, and cut tomatoes as desired (either halves, quarters, or smaller).  This is a messy process (not if you follow THESE steps!)  There is so much water in a tomato, and it runs everywhere.  Be sure to cut the greens and cores out too.  Next you need to put the cut pieces back into the stockpot with just enough water to cover. Boil for approx. 5 mins.

Now you can remove the jars from the dishwasher (or warming bath), and using a ladle and canning funnel to spoon tomatoes into the jars. Fill the jar to 1/2 inch headspace. You need to slide a non-metal untensil between the tomatoes and the edge of the jar and press against the tomatoes to release any trapped air.  Repeat this several times all around the jar.  Then wipe the rims of the jars clean, place the lid on top and secure with the band.  Screw the band on just fingertip tight, not as tight at it will go.

 Next, lower your jar into the simmering water bath for canning. (Like I said, I just used my stockpot, but if you have several jars, you will need to get a large canner).  The jar should be submerged fully in the water, or at least to the very top of the jar.  Turn the heat to high and when water reaches a steady boil, start the processing time of 40-45mins.  (Different recipes have different processing times. Tomatoes require approx 40 mins).

When 45 mins is up, remove the jar from the canner and place on a towel and allow to cool for 12-24 hours.  As the contents cool it will create a vacuum seal within the jar.  You lid should no longer “pop” once it is fully cooled. If the lid still pops, you did not achieve a vacuum seal.  Luckily, mine all sealed!  That’s it!  Oh, except that once I completed all this, I went out to check the garden and came back with a FULL BASKET OF TOMATOES!  Of course.  Because any normal person would have thought to check the garden before going through a whole afternoon of canning.  So, my next adventure was to make them into a spaghetti sauce that I canned later that night.  I’ll be sure to share that later!