Tag Archives: canning

Mrs. R’s Spaghetti Sauce – Truly Italian Tasting! – GF & DF

This Spaghetti Sauce recipe comes from childhood neighbors, who are Italian.  I can remember my mom making this sauce.  I loved watching  mom stir this over the course of an afternoon, as it simmered slowly, the wondrous smell filling our home.  One whiff today transports me right back to the old neighborhood.  The ground beef mom was able to get back then was fattier than what I use so she also had to skim the fat off the sauce.  A process I happily get to forgo.

This is the only spaghetti sauce I make and it always gets raves.  It is the only sauce The Patriarch really likes.  I usually make a huge batch without any meat and then can it.  In fact I usually make it without any meat.  IF we have meat with our spaghetti I usually serve meatballs.  Just an aside here, I make a huge batch of meatballs (yeah, huge for our small family anyway – 5 pounds of ground beef), completely cook them, cool them off and then put them into family sized portions (in their own bags) and then freeze them.  I am then able to make spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, sweet & sour meatballs, etc WITHOUT any fuss!  Here’s my ‘ol family REAL Italian Spaghetti Sauce recipe!!

I think the ‘secret’ for this spaghetti sauce is in the very slow, low heat cooking that releases the sugars from the tomatoes without burning them and to blend the flavors.  Burned tomatoes in a sauce will ruin an entire batch and as far as I know… there isn’t any way to eliminate ‘that scorched tomato taste’ from your sauce.    A ‘quick’ sauce will always taste ‘raw’ & unfinished.

Mrs. R’s Real Italian Spaghetti Sauce
1/2 pound ground beef (optional)
1/2 green pepper, seeded and chopped or dehydrated bell pepper
1/2 medium onion, chopped (I use a sweet or white variety)
1 32-ounce can tomatoes
1 32-ounce can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1 toe garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 tablespoon raw cane sugar
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Romano cheese
1 cup chicken broth

Brown meat well.  Add onions, green pepper and cook until onions are translucent.  Add all the rest of the ingredients and cook 2 hours on simmer.  Watch it carefully so it does not burn!

To make this 100% dairy free, just leave out the Romano cheese.  This small amount doesn’t bother me, so I leave it in.

If I am making this sauce without the meat, I sauté the vegetables in coconut oil, but only a small amount.  You don’t want any extra oil in your sauce!  The sugar is essential to cut the acid from the tomatoes.  It is also essential to not burn the sauce!!  I cook mine on as low a setting as possible and cook it longer if necessary.  You want to cook it until it thickens up.  And, believe it or not, it always tastes better the next day anyway!  I do not can my sauce with the meat, because that would require pressure canning and just the act of pressure canning the cooked sauce would over cook it and burn it.  Yuck.  Don’t ask me how I know this!!  lol  I am not sure why exactly, but there is not another sauce on the market that tastes quite like this one.  Not overly seasoned, but smells and tastes like Italy!!  YUM!!

Notes:  I never, ever, ever, ever use dehydrated garlic, garlic powder or the like.  Ick and double ick!  It has an after taste reminiscent of brass doorknobs… NOT a pleasant flavor in your foods.  Use only FRESH!  It does make a difference.  If you want to toast your garlic (LIGHTLY!!) add it to the vegetables, but after they are done and stir quickly.  You would also need to add everything else to the pot quickly so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Another horrible smell and taste.  You can also add sliced mushrooms to the onions for the spaghetti sauce when you are sauteing them.  We like our mushrooms… and I would add 8 ounces of sliced.

Did I happen to mention not to use dehydrated garlic??  And not to burn the garlic??  And not to burn the tomatoes??  All these cautions… I think in our hurried, got-to-have-it-now society is why a really good spaghetti sauce is not made from scratch more often.  It takes s-l-o-w, very low heat cooking.  Is it really different?  YES!!  Take the time and taste this for yourself.  You’ll be glad you did.

Buon appetito!

Blessings, ~Mrs. R

                     All art in this post is from art.com and I am an affiliate!  There is also a direct link to art.com in the side bar.  In this small way I am able earn a small bit of money to contribute to our finances.

Recipe is copyright of Honey From Flinty Rocks & Mrs. R.  Feel free to post or share while giving credit & link back to this post at Honey From Flinty Rocks.

Williamsburg Orange Cake – Gluten & Dairy Free

UPDATE:  Now WITH the photos!  🙂

We are here again for another ‘Gluten Free Ratio Rally’!  This month is white/yellow (NO chocolate allowed!) cake and is being hosted by Kate at Gluten Free Gobsmacked.  Go there to see all the other great cakes that were baked up this past month.

This month’s rally has ‘perfect timing’.  It is The Patriarch’s birthday this month and he is always reminding me that he is not a choco-holic as Arrow and I are.  Hm, how could anyone not love a good chocolate cake??  Or chocolate anything for that matter!  lol

So, I decided I would make him a Williamasburg Orange Cake.  Making it gluten and dairy free for Arrow and me.  We have been studying that time period and well, this just seemed to be so fitting somehow.  I have never made one but have looked at the recipe in my “very old 1970’s” Betty Crocker cookbook.  I tried to do some research on the history of this cake, but came up with a big blank.

I also wanted to tackle “canning cake”.  What!!  You’ve never heard of that before??  In our preparedness efforts I have seen commercially canned cakes and wondered if it was possible to do at home.  I did find a small bit of information on the internet about canning cakes and pies.  So why not give it a try?  I found the cutest little 4-ounce, quilted,  straight-sided canning jars at a local fruit stand and gave them a good washing.  They were filled too full of cake batter which left no room for any frosting.  So I will have to see if I can “can” cake with frosting another time.

I have never been very fond of homemade yellow or white cake.  I grew up with the standard boxed cakes and they always turned out tender, moist and tasty.  Yes, all that despite the unnatural ingredients in the box…  My homemade ones never turned out well.  Chocolate I could whip out, but any other… and they were dry, dry, dry and dense.  I just gave up baking yellow and white cakes and stuck with the chocolate ones that always turned out for me.  I would read the recipe then proceed to just throw everything into the mixing bowl and mix it all together.

I read up on cake ratios in Michael Rhulman’s Ratio cookbook to prepare for this rally.  Was I ever SURPRISED!  Well shocked actually.  Truly shocked.  Right down to my toes even.  I didn’t realize what a lazy, haphazard baker I was until reading about cake ratios.

Cakes are in the ‘batter’ section of the Ratio book.  A batter is a dough you can pour.  Yup, even I understand that.  It was the second paragraph that blew me away.  He went on to say that the order the ingredients are combined and the way they are combined is what makes the difference between them!  Oh.  THAT is why those recipes stated to do this and then this…  oops.

Batters are organized by the mixing method used, creaming (pound cake), foaming (standard butter cake), straight mixing (crepes, pancakes, muffins) or  some combination or variation resulting in a variety of cakes).  I was trying to make a pancake/muffin have the consistency of a cake but without using the cake method of mixing the ingredients!

So for this ratio it isn’t JUST the ratio that will be important but HOW those ingredients are combined… and when.  Panifica Emptor!!

Cake ratio – – 1:1:1:1 (eggs, flour, fats, sugar)

Also, you should have your ingredients mise en place.  A fancy French term that means have all your ingredients “all in place” and ready to go… before you start mixing!  I weigh out each steps ingredients into bowls, one for the flours, stirred, one for the oils and ‘extras’, and  the eggs and sugar right into my stand mixer bowl.  I LOVE weighing out my ingredients!!

Williamsburg Orange Cake – Gluten & Dairy Free

makes 1 9×2-inch layer & 4 – 6 4-ounce cakes-in-a-jar

8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs plus 1 large yolk) at room temperature

8 ounces evaporated cane juice

1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 ounces Earth Balance buttery spread, softened (I use soy free)

4 ounces grape-seed oil

1/3 cup natural applesauce

2 ounces quinoa flour

2 ounces brown rice flour

1 ounce coconut flour

3 ounces sorghum flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup raisins

2 teaspoons orange zest from an organic orange

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or nut of choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease cake pan.  I use palm shortening.  I didn’t grease my canning jars.

Combine the room temperature eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Using the whisk attachment whip the eggs and sugar on high until the eggs have tripled in volume, a few minutes.  [I was AMAZED at how fluffy it all became…]

Stir to combine all the flours with the baking powder with a whisk or in a food processor with a few pulses.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.  Fold in the sifted, stirred flours until you can’t see it anymore, then fold in the Earth Balance/Grape-seed oil, raisins, orange zest and chopped nuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan (and jars).  Bake for 30 – 45 minutes for a layer and 20 – 25 minutes for canning jars, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove to serving plate.  Cool completely.  Frost with Williamsburg “Butter” Frosting.

My 4-ounce jars were done in 20 – 25 minutes.  I let them cool for 10 minutes then put on the seals and rings.  Oh, how I love to hear that “pop” telling me my jars have sealed!  🙂

Williamsburg “Butter” Frosting – Dairy Free

1/4 cup Earth Balance

2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 – 3 TBSP orange juice

2 teaspoons orange zest

Blend Earth Balance and sugar.  Stir in orange juice and zest; beat until smooth.

This is quite tasty!  Not as moist as I would have liked, but that is probably from the coconut flour.  I thought the applesauce would compensate, but it did not.  Not as much as I would have liked.  I didn’t have time to do more experimenting.  I learned SO MUCH with this cake ratio rally.  I am looking forward to baking many more yellow/white gluten free cakes!

The bonus in all this…  Not the revelation I learned in proper mixing methods for cakes.  Not the delight in trying to “can” my own cake – and succeeding.   Not the pleasure in making a Willimasburg Orange Cake that I have wanted to make for decades AND have it turn out.

It was the joy in hearing the guys declare this cake good!  THAT is what I do this for.  🙂

Blessings, ~Mrs. R

This post is also linked to Kim at InAShoe.com

This post also linked here:

A Few Thoughts on Expiration Dates

Psst.  Can I tell you a secret?  Promise not to tell??  Double promise?  I, um, well… [clearing throat], um, I regularly keep and use food and medicine well beyond their expiration dates.  There, phew, I said it.  Are you completely shocked?  Hey, and I’m still alive and well too!!

Most expiration dates are an indicator of quality and, shall we say, full nutritional value (for food) and full effectiveness (for medicines).

I do can my own food.  I would like to say it’s from my own garden, but maybe that will happen one day.  No, I buy in bulk and process it according to the tastes of my family.  One year, I think it was 2006, I made so much jam that I still have a few of those jars on my shelf today!  Do I use it and feed it to my family?  Yes.  It tastes just as good as the day I canned it.  One caveat though.  If you decide to go out on a limb and make some ‘exotic’ flavor of jam, say blueberry with lime, I have to warn you.  The lime zest starts to overwhelm the blueberry and it does become inedible for that reason.  It hadn’t gone bad, just very lime-y.  Very.  Ask me how I know.  I have also canned tomatoes, green beans, and applesauce to name just a few.  I keep those for longer than a year and we still eat them!  I have not canned my own butter or cheese, and being dairy free I probably won’t either.  I will be trying my hand at ghee.  I’ll post my results on that another day.  I promise!

If it does not smell bad & does not have any of the tell-tale signs of spoilage.  Than I figure it is alright to eat.  This is not a blanket statement for you to eat any ol’ thing on your shelf.  This is simply a statement of what we have chosen do in our home, but with intelligence.  Your family’s safety is your own responsibility!  Make sure you know the signs of spoilage in home canned items.

Canning: Signs of Spoilage

  • Jar seals have bulging lids or the seal is broken
  • Jar is dirty on the outside (a sign of food seepage)
  • Liquid is cloudy or bubbling/fermenting or foaming
  • Liquid is seeping out from under the sealed lid
  • Contents spurt out when the jar is opened
  • Mold has grown on food or under the lid
  • Food is slimy or mushy
  • Food smells off or unusual
  • Food is discolored (usually darker).

If a jar is showing signs of spoilage, throw it out safely so that no children or animals can get at it.

Does commercially canned food ensure food safety?  Don’t make me laugh.  How many food recalls can we think of in the last 2 years?  Far too many for me to trust commercially canned items implicitly!

Here are the terms used in the food  industry to describe canned foods with signs of spoilage:

  • Soft Swell: A can that is bulged on both ends, but not so tightly that the ends can’t be pushed in somewhat with a thumb press.
  • Hard Swell: A can that is so tightly bulged on both ends that the ends can’t be pressed in. A can with a hard swell will generally “buckle” before it bursts.
  • Flipper: A can whose end normally looks flat, but “flips out” when struck sharply on one end.
  • Springer: A can with one end bulged out. With sufficient pressure, this end will flip in, but the other end will flip out.
  • Leaker: A can with a crack or hole in the container that has caused leakage.

How can we protect ourselves? One important way is to look for signs of spoilage and to immediately discard any canned foods that are suspected of being spoiled.

Excalibur 9-Tray

I also dehydrate many of the things we eat.  I like dehydrating for many reasons.  One is there are no jars to potentially break in an earthquake and an even longer time for the nutritional value (at least what’s left of it) of the food to remain intact.  But keeping these things free of moisture is key.  That is one reason why we found viable grain in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs!!  Dry, dry, dry.  It’s the word of the day.  Mold needs moisture to grow.  If you have dehydrated it well enough there will not be any moisture for mold to grow!

Dehydrated food is also lighter in weight making it easier to transport whether you are hiking, biking, or bugging out.  I am experimenting with making my own ‘instant soups & meals’ using my own dehydrated foods.  I will keep you posted on my progress in that.  I am also using lots more ‘leathers’ for a wide variety of uses.  No, not all fruit leather.  How does mushroom leather sound?  Or spaghetti sauce leather?

We purchase very little processed foods.  I make the bulk of our food from scratch.  With that said, even boxed cake mixes (for an example) would last for many years beyond their expiration dates!  Especially if they were also stored in 5-gallon containers with oxygen absorbers.  Water and air are food storage enemies.  Heat isn’t a helper either.  The cooler the storage temperature the better.

What about medicines you ask?  I do not take any medication on a regular basis.  I am attempting to get healthy by loosing my excess weight, exercising and eating a healthier diet.  All that is for a completely different post than this one!  lol  So if you do regularly take any medications you will have to judge for yourself whether any of this is for you or not.

Once long ago I passed a kidney stone.  OK, truth be told more than once, but we don’t need to get into that here do we?  Not drinking enough water, a significant increase in my black tea intake and celiac were my undoing.  Let me just tell you that passing a kidney stone is far more painful than giving birth!  I have given birth & with NO pain medication more than once.  This kidney stone thing was FAR worse.  Far, far worse.  I’m starting to sweat and shake just thinking about it.  I was given Tylenol with codeine for the pain.  But one whole pill sent me on ‘a loopy road’ and unable to function.  Who can do that with a small child in the house?  So I cut those big pills into quarters and took them that way.  I was able to take just enough to stay on top of the pain yet remain functional.

You can well imagine that those pills lasted quite a long time.  I have taken some of these that were well over 5 years old and closer to 10.  They still worked, but not like a ‘fresh’ one.  But at least they worked!  If you do choose to store extra medicines make sure they are stored in a way that an unauthorized person can’t gain access to them.


~Mrs. R

Disclaimer: The information available through this blog is  for educational purposes only.  All efforts have been made to ensure the material in this post is accurate and up to date.   However, Honey From Flinty Rocks cannot be held responsible for any circumstances resulting from its use, unavailability, or possible inaccuracy.