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Dehydrating Garlic

I cook with garlic a lot, to the point I think our hearty consumption of this vegetable, along with ginger, has kept my family from colds and the flu for the past three years.  While I cook with fresh garlic the majority of the time, I use powdered garlic in canning recipes, rubs, salts, and dips. Store bought dehydrated garlic has burned, harsh taste to me, so I started making my own. I don’t grow my own garlic yet, so I bought large packs of peeled, fresh garlic for my own powder. Fresh garlic powder is nothing like store bought, much like homegrown dried herbs are very different than commercial.

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My first memories of three bean salad were at a park called Lake Dixon, where my family rented little boats and picnicked on the shore. There were always potucks and parties there too, and one dish I specifically remember eating a a potluck there was three bean salad. It’s probably strange I remember my first taste of this classic salad, but maybe it’s because I really wanted to like it, but didn’t. The beans were drenched in an unbalanced vinegar dressing, with an overly sharp bite. I liked the idea of the different textures of beans together, but the dressing ruined it for me. Recently, I saw someone post a picture of their home canned three bean salad, so I drilled the poster regarding taste. Their recipe came from the Amish Canning Cookbook, a dish I had been eyeing every time I thumbed through that book. This person assured me this side dish was not overpowering with vinegar. Inspecting the ingredient list, I could see this version had promise, and because the ingredients were inexpensive, I thought, “why not?”

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Aldi had butternut squash for 59 cents a pound, so I picked up 8 in different sizes. Winter squash is a winner to stock up on, because it lasts for months on your counter. No need to come right home from the store,  and start putting your winter squash in jars. But since I bought so many, and four large heirloom pumpkins to process before Christmas, I decided to get a head start.

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Apple Scrap Cider

This year I discovered how to turn fruit scraps into something special. You can make vinegar, syrup, and jelly by boiling it down and saving the juice. I actually started making apple cider flavored syrup not just for pancakes, but as a binder for granola bars. I made peach syrup a few months ago, and I’m going to make some granola with peach syrup, almond slices and dehydrated peaches. Playing with food is just so much fun, especially when you can turn would-be kitchen trash into treasure.

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One of the reasons I can, is to stock up when prices are low. So when I saw beef prices started to rise, I stocked up. Beef sky rocketed at one point, and the only place it’s come back down is at Costco. I’m unsure of what’s going to happen in the near future, so I canned a bunch up for my food storage. While people are most afraid of canning meat, it’s actually the easiest thing to can. I wrote a food column on canning meat with safety statistics proving, it’s safe and easy.

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