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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pears and Gadgets!

As you may remember from my last post, I haven't really had anything this year to preserve. I have canned some ham hocks for meals like ham and noodles, but my garden and berries were pretty useless this year due to all of the rains. I was hoping that someone, somewhere, would have an overflow of something that I could put up, and I have been blessed by some friends with an offer for pears!

So tomorrow I plan on going and picking pears. I am thinking of doing canned pears, pear juice for mixing with grape juice, pear sauce for our oatmeal, and dehydrated pears for fresh eating and adding to breads maybe. Any other suggestions?

As I also mentioned in my last post, offered to let me test out a few of their kitchen products. I decided to choose a couple gadgets that would help me with stocking my pantry.

One of the products I chose was the Hamilton Beach Wave Power 12 Speed Blender. I burned out my last blender a year ago when making applesauce. It took me awhile to pick out a blender, but I decided to go with Hamilton Beach again, even though the one that burned out was a Hamilton Beach. Here's why: The pitcher is a 48 oz pitcher. The majority of the others were smaller. It is also a glass pitcher, with most others being plastic. I also looked at the power, and the Hamilton Beach had 550 watts - which was higher than many others. My old blender (which is now in the garbage) was only 450 watts so hopefully this new one will not have the problems my old one did. And an added perk is that my old pitcher fits my new blender, so I now have a spare.

I will admit that I don't use blenders much, and really don't know many of the ins and outs to using them, but I was able to make a yummy strawberry smoothie after some fiddling around. I always have trouble getting things to mix well in them, but after some adjusting I got it going and got all of the ice crushed.

LinkAnother item I gave a try was the Progressive International Food Chopper. I'm not much for filing my cupboards with gadgets (since I don't have much cupboard space), but thought this might be helpful when making and canning soups since I spend so much time chopping.

I have found when using this that it works best not to use it with the bottom in place. The blades don't seem to go all the way down, so there are pieces that are not cut all of the way through. Putting it on a cutting board seems to help. As I was guessing, it also does not cut all of the pieces into uniform size like I can, but when making sauces and soups, I don't think it matters that much. What I will probably use it for most is for chopping onions. I usually chop these in large amounts and freeze them in 1/2 cup size baggies so they are ready to go. I haven't canned any soups yet, but I think it will be helpful when I am doing large batches of soups too. My verdict - I probably wouldn't use up my cupboard space for this if I just did small amounts of chopping, but I think it will be handy for when I am chopping lots and lots of things that I don't care if they are uniform or not.

So now that I have my gadgets, I am ready to stock up my pantry. I'm looking forward to getting my pears, and will probably start canning soups when it cools off this fall.

Full Disclosure: I received this product free in exchange for an honest opinion of a product-this review represents my true feelings.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Still Waiting for a Harvest . . .

I have been waiting for a harvest all summer. I am still waiting, and I am also preparing. CSN has offered for me to do a review, and with their great selection of kitchen products like le creuset, I couldn't pass up the offer. Especially since my blender died last year during canning season, and I am hoping to still put up some produce this year.

Hoping is the key word, though. After my garden fizzled out with root rot this spring, I set my eyes on my blackberry patch - which was loaded with blackberries waiting to ripen. I got a couple of early handfuls, but last week the majority of berries dried up. All it took was one hot week without much rain. I did get some beans replanted finally last week, but this year I think I am just going to have to be dependent on the overflow from others if I hope to put away any food. Usually my parents have an abundance of apples so right now I am thinking applesauce.

So I will continue with hopes of a harvest and preserving while getting set up again thanks to the great products of I'm excited to share about my new kitchen gadgets soon, and if you get a chance, check out all of the great things they have to offer!
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