Thelma & Louise

Jen and I set out on a road trip, today. Our goal was to tour a bit of Montana. We made some of my Herb Bread and canned some garlic butter. Combined with the other canned goods we have, we have brought them with us as “bartering tools.” We’ll give them to her family members as payment for letting us stay at their house free and we’ll give them to shop keepers and others we bump into as a “hello from Idaho Falls.”


So far, we’ve made it a little over 2 hours from home. We are in Dillon, Montana with no plans on where to go tomorrow. We’ll be staying at Jen’s grandmother’s house tonight and getting some good sleep before we head out again. Some of our scenery, thus far, is below…


This was the weather on the Idaho side of the border. We had some rain that was trying to be snow and the mountains all looked like this.


This picture was along the edge of the Idaho/Montana border.


And then we have Montana. High and Dry and clear as a brand new day. And, it stayed that way all the way into Dillon.

Along the way, we stopped at a few stores we saw in small towns. We gave away some bread, bought a book or two to bring home to my “old book” collection.


This store was in Lima, Montana. We haven’t been able to decide if it is pronounced LI-ma or LE-ma. We had a lot of fun trying to figure it out. This store wasn’t open but we did find a nice antique store in the same town. We gave him bread, he sold us some ancient books. I’m happy.


This is the Clark County Dam/Resevoir. The sunshine made it hard to get a decent picture but, o’well. The interesting part isn’t this dam that we had to drive a mile or two of switch-backs to get to. No. the best part is what was on the other side of the dam…


You’re probably wondering, “What the …?” Basically, it’s ice-fishing with little houses. Jen was confused until I explained the process of putting up a house and cutting a hole in the ice inside of the house. She’d never seen it before.


These guys are dedicated. Their Jeep has a snow plow on the front! I think he missed the sign that said, “NO driving on the ice!”


Truck topper, anyone?


Nah. This truck topper is better.


More beautiful scenery in “Big Sky Country” Montana. In this one, it actually looks like the clouds are rolling right over top the mountains.


Right now, we’re eating the cheapest dinner we can get at a restaurant called, “The Lion’s Den.” It’s not like we have a lot of money for this trip – that’s why we’re bribing Jen’s relatives for a bed with our baked and canned goods!


The Lion’s Den is similar to Applebee’s but has a section with casino machines. The waitress, Samantha, is friendly and we’re enjoying ourselves. We’re sitting next to a propane fire and eating a delicious bowl of Clam Chowder. It must be a house recipe because it came to us yellow and with some extra kick in the spices department.

The Blackened Chicken Salad is really good and I ended up shoveling down every bite of it. For $10, it was a definite crowd pleaser! If we come this way to go home when we’re done our travels around Montana, I’ll be stopping by for more salad! Except for the prices, I could equate this place with Shari’s at home – good food, good atmosphere, WiFi and a warm fire. Ok, Shari’s doesn’t have a fire. Does that really matter, though? In my book, it does but Shari’s can’t have everything … right?

And, while I was typing this, Jen just sucked an onion up her nose. I think she needs to learn how to eat slower… or not miss her mouth. I’m going to let her explain that one …

So far, our fun drive has been fun and I look forward to what tomorrow brings. I’m stuffed full of yummy food and ready to crash at Jen’s Grandma’s house for tonight. Yeah, I know. It’s only 6:30 p.m. but I’m tired now!

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Categories: Canning, Dinner, Photography, Trips | 6 Comments

10lbs of Hamburger

I promised to tell y’all about my experience with 10 pounds of hamburger. The story goes like this…


Mark loves my homemade chili. I decided to try and send some back with him when he left for his 4-week long stay in the frozen wastelands of North Dakota for work. Learning how to can it properly it for longer storage than a refrigerator and not have it frozen was a fun process. Freezing homemade chili is a great idea; however, it takes forever to thaw and then heat up when it is frozen. And, he doesn’t have a refrigerator where he is, so just making it and letting it stay fresh until he eats it isn’t an option. Canning it, however, means it is pre-cooked and easy to heat up and serve again. We even tested a jar I made on Friday night for “ease in heating to eat.”


It was only a half-jar, the remains from canning 3 other jars on Friday night. It heated up in about 2 minutes in the microwave and tasted really good. The jar gets messy from heating in the microwave but they aren’t too terribly hard to clean. Just ask Jen! She’s cleaned out many a jar of my mistakes while learning. Including all that honey butter we canned the other day.

Unfortunately, the honey looked disgusting and didn’t “set” as well as it could have. The taste wasn’t all that great, either. I believe the problem we had was using crystallized honey when we made our honey butter. The crystallized honey powder is made by boiling it with water until it’s a clear consistency. We boiled it, we made it all up but we didn’t let it sit for 3 months before we made the honey butter out of it. We may try again – after we boil it and let it sit for 3 months. As soon as funds present themselves.

Back to the 10 lb of hamburger…


First step, cut the hamburger smaller so you can fit it in the frying pan. No, that bright blue bandaid is not because I tried to cut off my thumb while cutting the hamburger. It’s from my skin cracking with the cold weather we’ve been having. I’m serious! I promise!


Step two: Fry up the hamburger. We cooked it pretty good before starting the seasonings and whatnot.


Step Three: Split up the hamburger meat since it won’t all fit and cook in the stock pot that I have. We put half in the crock pot and half in the stock pot and boiled it that way for the hour it requires. Adding the spices was tricky since it was such a large amount and split into two different cooking pots. I did the best I could and I have to say, it does taste great!


Step Four: Can the chili without letting Mark or Jen eat it all first.


Ok. That was an oops. There is only one picture of the chili being canned. And not even all of them. Only the first batch of 8 that went in the pressure cooker. When we were done, we had about 16 cans of chili; twelve of those cans are set aside for Mark to take back to work with him on Tuesday.

Except, he didn’t go back to work on Tuesday. He won’t go back for another week. They have slowed down so much, they are giving workers an extra week off before returning back to work. The problem with this is, they don’t get paid during this time!

Ugh. Here we go again. Another November situation.

Except… I am prepared. I have been setting things aside. I have been building up my bulk food items. I’ve even been working on building up the spices that I use.


What spices I have in my home have been placed in canning jars. This idea, I got from the Ball Facebook page. Those spices that I did not have a good quantity of, I purchased at the bulk foods store (read: Winco) here in my town for pennies compared to what I would spend (and have spent) on the little jars of almost nothing in them.

Where possible, without spending an obscene amount of money, I have created two jars of each spice. One jar set in my closet with the rest of my canned goods and the other set in my kitchen for daily use. I have spent 52 cents or $1 on 2 small jars of one spice. It’s actually a *lot* cheaper than purchasing them all in the prepackaged units with a brand label on them!


Remember this? I was so proud of it and loved it so much when I bought it from Rush’s Kitchen Center. What a tragic waste of money. The lids keep falling off, the spices leak out of the bottom and, if you accidentally bump it, all the spices shake, some fall off and you get a mess all over your counter.

So… because of something else I saw on the Ball Facebook page, it is gone. I took it down and it’s destination is the local thrift store. Instead, I managed to convince Mark to put this up for me to hold all my little jars of spices in the kitchen…


I glued a little magnet to the lid of each jar…


I made sure Mark stayed right *there* until he hung up a sheet of metal underneath my counters.


And then I hung my jars. Underneath the counter in my kitchen. I got the idea from the Ball Facebook page. I didn’t come up with it myself. I do find it rather ingenious, though! I am anxious to start using them!

In fact, I made my Herb bread again using the jars where they are now. It was fun looking for and moving the “frequently used” jars towards the front. I like it. I just hope it doesn’t become as annoying as the hanging thing I got from Rush’s. Of course, as always, not everything I buy from there is annoying. To date, I’ve only purchased two annoying items from them in the last 8 months of getting nearly all my kitchen needs from them.


Ok, so what is she going to do with this?

Well…. I have been making bread, on average, every two days. We eat a lot more bread now and I credit my own cooking skills as the cause. I’m sure everyone will agree or face me going on strike and not making any more bread!

On a blog, not too long ago, I saw a post about making a bread bag. I don’t recall where that post was but if you find yourself reading this and know it was you, leave me a comment! I’ll gladly link to your post on how to make a bread bag.

I read the instructions a few weeks ago and it has been mulling around in my head since. I didn’t have the directions in front of me for the idea but did what I remembered. This is the result…


Complete with French seams, according to what I remember about the original post! However, does it work for heating the bread? Let’s try it!


Stuff the bread inside…


Tie it closed and nuke it for a minute or two.


And, I found a cute wire basket for pennies to set it in so it is not hot on the counter or dining room table. Oh, and it’s yummy! I was worried about the “No Fray” glue I used on the tips of the twill tape but it came out of the microwave just fine.

Voila! Bread Bag to store the bread I’ve been making and a great way to heat up that same bread without wasting a paper towel or using a disgusting kitchen towel on it.

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Categories: Canning, House/Yard Changes, Quilting | Leave a comment

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