By now, you have probably guessed that I’m a bit of a non-electric gadget girl. One of my favorite things is my steam juicer. Mine is a Mehu Liisa. I have been following a thread about it over at Sustainable Country (check it out if you don’t already belong there). The only drawback is the size. This is a seriously big pot. One of the things that I wish I had done differently when I rebuilt this kitchen was to put in a wall cabinet just for the big stuff like the grain grinder, the two juicers, the dehydrator and the canners. As it is now, I have to cart these monstrosities up and down the cellar stairs every time I want to use them. It’s really inconvenient. In the Apocalypse, I will be mighty happy to toss out the vacuum cleaner and convert the broom closet to more storage space. I’d actually be happy to toss it now but the notion of beating the beating the living room carper really doesn’t appeal to me.

The juicer has three parts; a food container that is like a big strainer, a solid center pan that collects the juice and a smaller bottom pot that holds the water. There’s a spigot in the bottom pot that allows you drain the juice without taking the whole thing apart.

You can do so much with this thing. You can juice any fruit or vegetable. The steam goes up and the juice comes down. I have juiced apples, grapes, berries, and carrots. It’s great for elderberries. You don’t have to peel or stem or anything. It does work better to chop large things like apples into smaller chunks. I drain the juice right into a hot, sterile mason jar and put a lit on it. It keeps for months with no other processing. The juice will also make a fine jelly or wine base. What’s left is a pulp that can be tossed to the chickens or into the compost in some cases. In other cases the pulp is just as useful. With apples, I run the pulp through the food mill, add a bit of apple juice back into it and can it up for delicious apple sauce. With tomatoes, I do the same thing. You get a very thick sauce that doesn’t need to be boiled further. I do process the sauce in a boiling water bath. You can even add the onions and peppers to the steamer. The juice comes out like a pale, pink water. I can this too and use it for stock. It make a very nice soup base.

The steamer can also be used for cooking chicken. You get fall-off-the-bone tender meat and lot of broth. Add the broth and some salt to the meat and pressure can it. You will still have several cans of broth to can as well. This is how I plan to do up the 20 chickens I have coming from the farm up the road. I love anything that uses no electricity and leaves no waste.

I wanted to give a quick family update. We have a system of one night on for cooking and clean-up and one night off. it’s really working out well although I will admit to having some trouble adjusting to just getting up from the table and doing nothing beyond putting my own plate in the dishwasher. Ben is working on splitting the wood and Maggie and I are planning a trip to the LDS cannery in Worcester. Ben and Maggie are Mormon and are totally on-board with growing, storing and preserving food. While our religious traditions are different, we share similar values. Each of us respects the others.

I had a very nice experience last night. My husband has not been feeling well. A little bird must have spread the word because, I looked out the window to see that my son had been joined at the woodpile by our dear friends, Frank and Stephen Philbrick. They split up a huge pile of wood. Frank and Stephen are the authors of The Backyard Lumberjack. If you want a glimpse into life in Cummington, read this book. It’s a wonderful resource for anybody who heats with wood but it also contains beautifully written anecdotes about the people and places I hold so dear. Frank and my son, Nathan have been best friends since they were toddlers and Charlie, Frank’s younger brother, is my son, Ben’s, best friend. Stephen is our pastor as well as dear friend and his wife, Connie Talbot, is an extraordinary potter and a dear friend as well. In the words of Alice from the Creamery: Life is good and blessings are abundant.

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