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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back Home Again After Camping - pickling beets

On Thursday, it was time to leave the campground around 3pm.  We stopped at Stockbridge to fuel up our propane tank... propane was only $2.99 a gallon so it was time to fill it up before the home heating season begins.  That will probably drive up the cost again.  Now we are full for the Halloween weekend which is probably our next camping trip.

When we got home, I walked in and smelled "that smell" particular to our home.  It had been closed up for five days and had a chance to regain that same smell when we were first looking at the house almost 2 years ago. Hard to believe it's been almost two years???  If you recall, we were already living full time in our motorhome, and Steve was ready to retire.  Instead he transferred within the State of Wisconsin and got the job at High Cliff State Park.  We changed our dream to another chapter.  We put the offer in early November and then closed at the end of December.  I get the same feeling when I walk in the house now after being gone for a few days.  It's our home. Yes!

I think the smell is a comforting smell of old varnish, woodwork, plaster, and probably dust too. It brings a smile to my face and a lift to my heart.

But that smell brings back such a memory as certain smells will do. Paula who used to live here told me it is the smell of "HAPPINESS" because the home is being loved by us!  Awww how sweet!

Once we unloaded all of our gear, dirty clothes, quilting stuff and got the fridge cleared out, we could get on our with our tasks.  Steve was cutting the grass that really really needed it.  I ran over to a garden plot from a local garden seller who sold me a 5 gallon bucket of freshly dug up beets.

Ahhhh I LOVE making pickled beets!  Each time I get ready to make them I ALWAYS call my Mommy for the brine recipe!  
She says: 
"2 cups good Heinz 5% vingar, 
2 cups sugar, 
and 1 cup water to cut the vinegar"  
.... from there I had to triple that up for the amount of beets I got.

I sat out on the lawn chair by the back door to clean and cut off the stems and leaves. It was a sunny day and I enjoyed sitting out and doing this harvest work.  I think of all the years my mom and grandmother who made pickled beets.  I think of all the pioneer women making each and every beet count because they took such a toil to make them grow on precious land their family had cleared and toiled over.

I kinda feel like I cheated a bit, by buying them from a fellow Chilton-ite instead of growing them myself.  But if I don't have the time, the small amount of dollars I paid ($5) was worth it for a bucket full of summer goodness.  Preserving them for the middle of winter is going to be a treat!

I simmer the whole beets up in water in my largest soup pot until the skins start to slip off.  Now the messy part of the job begins.  Steve snapped this shot of me at work... yes, I wear gloves to keep the stains off my hands.  I carefully slip off each skin, cut out any little hard tough spots, and chunk up each beet into bite size.  They are all put into my largest stainless steel bowl until it's full.

I carried it into the house where two doggers were hoping it was a bowl full of doggie treats!  Nope.. sorry.  They have both learned to be underfoot in the kitchen, just in case a good tidbit falls to the floor.  Beets... not so much.

I had the kettle of brine simmering on the stove: (the vinegar, water and sugar recipe)  and I carefully filled each of the pint jars I had waiting for me in the dishwasher.  I pre-wash and heat up all of my jars in advance in the dishwasher and preheat my lids in a pan of water of the stove to soften the rubber.  Soon the first batch of jars was filled in the canning rack to be carried out to the garage.....

Why the garage, you say???

Because that is where I do my canning! 
We bought a propane outdoor cooker 
that I set my canning kettle on. 

Keeps the heat and mess out in the garage
plus my kitchen stove is flat glass top,
and the canning kettle is concaved a bit on the bottom and 
it doesn't make a good match-up against the glass. 

This works SO much better! 

(we also simmer Snow Crab legs out here 
to keep the smell out of the house, 
even in the middle of winter)

While the first batch is out in the canning kettle (15 minutes) 
I have the next batch of seven jars filled and kept hot 
in the kitchen sink until it's their turn! 
 (it's never a good idea to plunge cold jars into a hot water bath canning kettle,
the drastic temp change can shatter your jars) 

 Here we are .. the first batch is done! 

Soon I had 14 pints done... and then 2 quarts.
The one fancy square quart jar on the far left I have had for years and years,
and always make one special jar for just US! 

About half of these will be given away to friends who visit
the other half will be cherished by Pa Pfundtner who adores them. 

He even returns my empty jars! 

We are sitting here watching the Packer Game on Sunday as I type this.  I have a pot of chicken vegetable soup simmering on the stove for Half Time. So far the Packers are winning.

We worked on a couple RV projects this weekend, so I will do up two separate blogs about those tasks. 


  1. And do you make purple eggs with the juice after eating the beets? I loved getting a purple egg in my lunchbag when I was in school. The other kids at my table would be jealous.

  2. Please tell me you didn't throw away those beautiful beat stems. You should pickle them, too. They are really good.

  3. Gosh I haven't done that in a long time, Tina. Will have to remember than as the jar gets empty!

  4. Oh Dizzy Dick I didn't know that. Never had pickled stems before. I didn't have many, because the gal cut most of them off, I only had a few extras at the end that she put on top of the box that had stems on them. Mostly just roots and short stems I had to cut off. Will have to look up a recipe for next year on how to do that!

  5. I have never had pickled beets before. They look so good. I will have to try them sometime. I liked your TV remodel in the motorhome. As usual, Steve did a great job. By the way, I love your haircut. Looks good on you √


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