Tag Archives: yummy

Pickled Beets

This has been the summer of pickling for me. Know that Portlandia sketch?

The one where they pickle everything? Yeah, that is totally me right now. I blame beets. Beets started my whole summer obsession with pickling. You see, we have this neighbor, Pete.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete gave me beers and produce. This made me happy.

Pete has a garden that puts mine to shame, I mean his garden makes me want to cry is it so awesome. And he is very generous with letting me come over and pillage his garden. Every time I go up to our summer ranch, he invites me over and lets me pick produce (like once a week, between my garden and his, I haven’t bought produce in months). Needless to say, I’m a pretty big Pete fan right now.

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn't had a shower, I wasn't wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

The first time Pete turned me loose in his garden was after a long day working on the ranch. I had lost both pant legs to eye patches for the cows, I hadn’t had a shower, I wasn’t wearing make-up and I had eye patch glue all over my hands. Garden time was much needed and very much appreciated!

Want to know the really funny thing? I don’t like most of the things I am canning. Actually let me re-phrase that, I didn’t like most of the things.  I finally tried the beets and they were amazing, why didn’t anyone tell me pickled beets are good?

I’ve decided to share some of my pickling recipes. Not that I am making anything that is super rare, or you can’t already find on the internets….

The beets I picked.

The beets I picked.

I got this recipe out of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I modified it slightly after lurking a bunch of other recipes. I am very happy with the finished product.

Pickled Beets

(this makes about 6 pints of pickles beets)

3 quarts beets (like 12 big ones)

2 cups white sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon whole allspice

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

3 1/2 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 cup reserved water from boiling the beets

This is what you do:

Wash the beets really well.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Silly helped! She tasted the greens to make sure they were good.

Place them in a large pot and boil until a fork is easily inserted (I cut them in half to shorten the cooking time).

Boiling beets.

Boiling beets.

Once your beets are cooked the skin should slip right off.

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Beets remind me of breaking down a carcass. They are so messy and red!

Slice or cube your beets. Combine all ingredients except the beets, in a large saucepan.

Your pickling mixture.

Your pickling mixture.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Packing warm beets into hot jars.

Pack beets into hot jars (I put my sterilized jars in an 180 degree oven and use as needed), leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Wine helps.

Wine helps.

Ladle hot liquid over the beets, making sure to leave the 1/4 inch headspace. Remove the air bubbles.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Remove the air bubbles and clean the top so you get a seal.

Adjust the two piece caps.

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Hot, clean caps help with a good seal!

Process pints or quarts (I used pints) for 30 minutes in boiling water.

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Make sure you have at least two inches of water covering you processing cans!

Process for 30 minutes!

Process for 30 minutes!

The older I get the more and more I am realizing how lucky I am/was, to be born into a family that valued canning and pickling. I have wonderful memories of both side of my family canning fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies in the summer. I know many people are intimidated to try and can because it is unfamiliar to them. But you guys, I promise, it’s not really that hard and when you hear that “pop” of the can sealing, it is so worth it! I urge you try it! If you have questions, ask me, I’d love to help!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

Pickled beets by me. The fruits of my labor. YUM!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, arts & crafts, food, History, Humor, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe, Uncategorized

Giveaway: Mann’s Veggie Mac-and-Cheese

Remember last week when I wrote about Mann’s new product, Veggie Mac-and-cheese? Well this is the week when I tell you what I thought of the product.
First off a little about me.
I am a food elitist (but not the judgey, holier than thou, kind. More like the picky, mind my own business kind.)
In my defense, I can’t help it! I grew up in a home where all of my meals were prepared fresh by my Mom. We ate our own meat, always had lots of local fresh veggies and fruit. We rarely went out to dinner, but when we did, it was never fast food. In college, my friends would fight to come home with me for a Mom made lunch or dinner.

I loved the packaging. Maybe it's because I am in my early 30's, but I thought this kid was really cute (OMG, did I really just say that?! Quick get my cat!)

I loved the packaging. Maybe it’s because I am in my early 30’s, but I thought this kid was really cute (OMG, did I really just say that?! Quick get me my cat!)


Ok, back to the matter at hand, Mann’s Veggie Mac-and-Cheese. Like I said before, I got an awesome box of veggie mac-and-cheese sent to my office on a Friday. I scurried on home and invited my partner in eating, Daniel, over to help me taste test.
This was the bacon and cheddar and fiesta cheddar (my two favorites) and I added cooked chicken.

This was the bacon and cheddar and fiesta cheddar (my two favorites) and I added cooked chicken.


It was good. I mean really good.
Each bag (we tried all four flavors), have 55% vegetables (!), 25% cheese sauce (it was gooey, yummy cheese too), and 20% noodles. I also added chicken to my veggie mac and cheese because, well, because I like meat, a lot.
I actually wish I wouldn’t have cooked all the flavors all at once (they were so good I wanted some later in the week). Since I do work in town, write, work on the ranch, do adult 4-H and have a social life. I don’t have a lot of free time. In fact my free time is usually spent cooking because I am such a food elitist, I refuse to buy most convenience food.
Usually by the time I get home at night and finish my chores I am only capable of simply wiping the pig poo off of me and the snoticles from my nose (it’s winter!) and crashing on the couch.
This veggie mac-and-cheese is a perfect meal to come home after a very long day. It was ridiculously easy to prepare and it made me really happy because I got to use my cast iron skillet (I LOVE cooking in it). Even Daniel, who is not a cook (when I met him he “cooked” bread and tomato sauce for dinner) could make this!
Best of all, I felt healthy eating this. The vegetables were that perfect crisp cooked, the noodles were soft, yet firm, and the cheese was just right. It was a great way to get a complete serving of healthy veggies without me even noticing!
Perfectly cooked crisp veggies. SO GOOD.

Perfectly cooked crisp veggies. SO GOOD.


Is this a product that will be included in my weekly shopping cart? Yes, it is. I’m grateful to Mann’s for giving me this opportunity to try something new. And really excited to support such a great company (remember womann owned, 3 generations of a family growing AND packing veggies). AND Elena said if any Beef Jar readers would like to receive discount coupons, they can email Mann’s at info@mannpacking.com (OMG – how cool).
One dirty skillet, no prep or clean-up, its really good and I felt healthy. This product is a winner in my book.

One dirty skillet, no prep or clean-up, its really good and I felt healthy. This product is a winner in my book.


And now for the giveaway! Mann’s is giving the winner of this giveaway 7 days worth of veggie mac-and-cheese (coupons of course)! When Elena told me that I’ll admit, I got a whisper jealous! This is a great prize! All you need to do is leave me a comment and next Monday, February 18, 2013, I will use random.org to select a winner! Good luck!!! And thank you Mann’s!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, family, food, Giveaway, Media, Ranch life, Uncategorized

Mann’s Veggie Mac-n-Cheese

Once upon a time, a long, long, long time ago, I dated an almost vegan (my Dad and I were fighting, naturally him being a cattle rancher, I dated vegan as a punishment). It was a rough few months of no meat eating for me, before I could start enacting my catch and release program.
If you are unfamiliar with my catch and release program, I’ll fill you in. I date a vegetarian/vegan, show them the ranch, provide facts when I can, and cook delicious meat based meals, therefore converting them back into omnivores, then I release them back into the wild (I have an 100% success rate).
During the few month transition phase of this relationship, I flirted with vegetarian and vegan cooking because, if nothing else, I am supportive of diet choices. My college friend noticed what was going on, and was cool enough to send me some coupons for her companies’ products. She just happens to work for a vegetable company.
Mann’s, the company my friend Elena works for is really great. Not only are they a vegetable packer, they are growers as well! Their farm has been family operated for 74 years (that’s 3 generations!) My favorite part though? Mann’s is WoMANN owned! That’s right a female run family farm, BAM! How can I not love this company? It’s everything I want to support.

I love this product. LOVE it. It's a major part of my diet.

I love this product. LOVE it. It’s a major part of my diet.


To be fair, when Elena sent me those coupons years ago, I became a huge fan of Mann’s products. Their pre-cut and washed vegetables became a staple in my diet. One of my favorite meals to make myself is Mann’s vegetable with greek yogurt dip, fresh fruit, cheese, a baguette, last night’s leftover meat and a glass of wine. I could eat that almost every day and be pretty happy about it.
Imagine my excitement when Elena e-mailed me to ask if I would like to taste their new product. Um……heck yeah! Sign me up! Their new product is Veggie Mac-n-Cheese! She told me that they have 4 flavors, and they are currently being sold in Safeway Stores (including Vons and Tom Thumb). The favors are classic cheddar, bacon and cheddar, fiesta cheddar and white cheddar. Each flavor has a mix of either cauliflower, broccoli or carrots.
My special delivery!

My special delivery!


Elena had each flavor shipped to my office so I could taste test them. Can I tell you how special I felt when I got a big box of food sent to my office? It made me really happy and my poor co-workers had to hear about it all day.
YES! Veggie mac and cheese!!!!

YES! Veggie mac and cheese!!!!


Of course, I scurried on home to play the taste test game. It was fun! Are you curious how they tasted? You should be. Stay tuned for next week when I will share with you what we thought of this product and maybe (hint) have a giveaway!

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Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, Giveaway, Humor, Ranch life, Uncategorized