Candy’s Version of Chicago Sweet Barbecue Sauce

Today, I got some of the older (not outdated though) bulk cans of tomato sauce and catsup out of the pantry wanting to try a new recipe using them. We’re big fans of a particular  BBQ chain across the U.S. We especially love their Chicago Sweet and St. Louis Style sauces. I wanted to give the first one a try. Looking at the ingredients, I pulled everything we needed out of the cabinets and started mixing. The original recipe called for red wine vinegar but all I had was apple cider vinegar and white vinegar. I used the apple cider vinegar to give it a little more pizzazz. I made some other substitutions, put a half cup more brown sugar in it, more chili powder and a little less celery salt.

As I made it, I measured the contents of the bulk cans. The catsup can holds 11 cups of catsup and the tomato sauce came out at 12 cups exactly. I’ll share my recipe, but for this batch of BBQ sauce to can, I increased the proportions by 6 to use the entire cans of tomato sauce and catsup. Oh my!! Is it ever good! It has a bit of a kick to it, so if you prefer sweeter BBQ sauces, lessen the amounts of the hotter spices and taste it as you go.

here we go…

Candy’s Version of Chicago Sweet BBQ Sauce.

2 cups catsup

2 cups tomato sauce

1-3/4 cups brown sugar

1-1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup molasses

4 teaspoons liquid smoke. I used hickory flavored.

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, as desired (or a scant 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

1 scant teaspoon black pepper.( I only had a fine ground black pepper so I used less. The finer ground pepper is, the hotter it tastes.)


  1. Place all ingredients n a very large saucepan. I wound up using a hot water bath canner to cook the sauce in. 6 batches equals a LOT of sauce!
  1. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. The yellow dots you see is the butter as it’s melting. See the steam? It smells absolutely delicious!

Candys version of Chicago Sweet BBQ sauce

  1. Prepare canning jars, lids and rims per directions in the Ball canning book. Set aside.
  1. Ladle hot barbecue sauce into jars, leaving a 1 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a clean cloth or paper towel soaked in white vinegar. (I’ve never had a seal failure using vinegar to clean the jar rims. )  Candy's Chicago Sweet BBQ sauce ready to can.JPG
  1. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes per the Ball canning book directions. Remove from the hot water, allow to cool without touching the lids. In the event of a seal failure, you may remove the lid, prepare a new one and re-process. Be sure to check the edge of the rim of the jar for chips or breaks, or debris that may have caused the seal failure.

I had one jar that broke in the last canner load crying sad face but, I still have 18 pints to use.

Candys version of Chicago Sweet BBQ Sauce all done

  1. Store opened jars of barbecue sauce in the refrigerator.

New Recipes

Aha! I took time to read old email and found a super recipe from my best heart sibling (we adopted each other, a sister and brother combo, sibs from other mothers)  that we’re going to try. This one came from a web page called Cappers Farmer.  I love reading their recipes and posts. Here is is, sharing my favorite from them, to you.


Pear Cranberry Conserve

The combination of pear and cranberry is a delightful one for fall. The addition of ginger really makes the flavors sing, and the almonds provide a chewy crunch. For the best texture, use pears that are still quite firm so that the pear pieces remain intact when cooked. While  unsweetened dried fruit is generally preferable in conserves, it’s very difficult to find unsweetened dried cranberries, so feel free to use the sweetened version if that’s what you have available.

Before You Begin:

Prepare calcium water.  To do this, combine 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Yield: 4 to 5 half-pint (8-ounce, or 236 ml) jars


2 pounds (910 g) ripe, firm pears

1/2 cup (75 g) dried cranberries

2 tablespoons (28 g) finely chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 cup (63 g) sliced almonds

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) water

1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice

4 teaspoons (20 ml) calcium water

1 cup (200 g) sugar

3 teaspoons (9 g) Pomona’s pectin powder


  1. Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use.
  2. Peel, core, and dice pears.
  3. Combine diced pears in a saucepan with dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, sliced almonds, and the 11/2 cups (355 ml) water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until fruit is soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Mix well.
  4. Measure 4 cups (946 ml) of the cooked mixture (saving any extra for another use), and return the measured quantity to the saucepan. Add lemon juice and calcium water, and mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  6. Bring pear mixture back to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add the pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the conserve comes back up to a boil. Once the conserve returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.
  7. Can Your Conserve: Remove jars from canner and ladle jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, put on lids and screw bands, and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower filled jars into canner, ensuring jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner, return to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 extra minute of processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level). Turn off heat and allow canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that jars have sealed, then store properly.




2015 in review

It’s way too obvious that my blogging didn’t turn out the way it was intended at the beginning of this journey. Health problems between my husband and myself (2 surgeries within 4 months last summer) took up a lot of effort and time to heal.  Blogging took a back seat to these issues and other life’s events.

BUT! It’s almost 2016!!! It’s time for New Year’s resolutions. We all make resolutions, most of them good for the first week, then it’s off to the recesses in the back of the cranial gray matter. Do you do that too? Resolution. The word sounds good. The intent behind it is good. Best of all, is the resolution kept!

My 2016 Resolutions are:

  1. Return to this blog with a fervor never seen before! Life is wonderful, the knowledge being gained on this end is incredible. Knowledge not shared is knowledge not gained. What good is it to hold it, and not make the time to share it with others.
  2.  Make more time for my husband and I. We are not spring chickens anymore. He is 66 and I am (sigh) 61. We’ve spent the last 5 years building this farm to a self-sufficient status. It’s been hard work, tiring, exasperating, and sometimes with tears. Now it’s time for us. Candlelight dinners, fishing on the lake, camping, hunting, whatever he likes, we are off to do.
  3. Get my wood shop together and functional. I love working with wood, all the way from the raw state, to refinishing old furniture. I love making things from pallets and want to try cabinet making. I’d also love to try turning wood on a lathe. My friend just started doing this and turns out some beautiful pieces. He’s passed the zeal to me also.
  4. Health…always on the list. Last year (2015) wasn’t good, health-wise. Two surgeries, new diagnosis of fibromyalgia for me, and an impending knee replacement for my husband (for 2016). These things slow one down. It’s time to get back on track, eat right, exercise and work on lowering the prescription medication list.
  5. Finish my certification as a Family Herbal Practitioner. I have two more classes to complete and then pay the fees for a national certification. It’s within reach now. Time to get ‘er done!
  6. Community.  We have a free health clinic in town for the indigent people around here. As a retired RN, there’s no reason why I can’t volunteer at least a couple days a week to help out there. And too, with the certification as a Family Herbal Practitioner on the near horizon, who knows? That might come in useful there as well.
  7. Learn to knit and crochet!!! I know. That’s been on the list for many years and goes to the deep gray cranial matter recesses. I bought two skeins of yarn, a huge, size K crochet hook, have a simple, single crochet stitch pattern to make a scarf, and it’s out on the end table in the living room. Since it bugs me so much to have it there, I am starting on it as soon as this blog post is done!
  8. Put together a tribal association for the Cherokee descendants (Cherokee Heritage tribe)  in our area. Most tribes, those that are government sanctioned such as the Eastern Band of Cherokee, The United Keetowah Band of Cherokee, and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma have a strict policy for admission to their nation. It requires either a blood quantum level or documented relationship from the Dawe’s Roll or other rolls taken during the Removal Act. Most people do not have a documented history of their heritage. They know by word of mouth or of association with other family members who have Cherokee lineage. I’ll write a post later about our intended tribe that’s in the making.

In the meantime, life is good. It’s busy as always. The farm is growing and is at a stage where we can sit back and enjoy it.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Please, share here. We may have a small community of readers who can read your posts, and encourage you as the year goes on. Let’s make a support group right here, help each other along the way, make new friendships and renew the old friendships. It’s a New Year (almost) and it’s time to live and thrive!

Happy New Year to you, and may all the blessings from our Creator be bestowed upon you and your family and friends. May health be good, may cheerfulness and happiness be yours, and may you prosper greatly this year! ~~~



The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

We’re Ready…

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Are you ready? Ready for what? Winter snow and ice to disappear for another year? Ready to have warmer temperatures so you can enjoy the outdoors? Ready to prepare the garden bed? Ready for spring?

We are here at the Rick’s Ranch/Midwest Homestead garden is waiting for my hands in it’s dirt. The pigs are busy eating weed roots, clearing the garden plots and providing it with natural, organic fertilizer. We’ve had so many seed catalogs come in this year that it’s actually given me a headache trying to keep up with what we wanted to order, needed to order for our seed sales business and for our homestead. We have wish lists, need lists,        ” have to have it or the homestead won’t survive lists”. Never mind that the snow is still 8 inches deep in some places. The sun is shining, it’s well above freezing, and the adrenalin is pumping in anticipation of this year’s gardens.

It’s time to pull the portable greenhouses in, clean them, and ready the seed start trays for planting. Wash, disinfect, air dry. It’s an annual event that most times takes place in our bathroom, under the spray of the shower head. Hopefully this spring the greenhouse will be completed and these chores can be taken outdoors, where they rightfully belong. And, it’s time to take note of which seeds we have, and teaching others, how to best pre-treat seeds for optimal germination and growth.

Seed Starting

Unlike the seeds of annuals, lots of perennial seeds require a period of moist cold (cold stratification) before they will germinate. In the wild, this occurs naturally by the wind scattering the seed, animals carrying the seeds on their feathers or coats then the seed is covered with grass, weeds and leaves and finally cold temperatures and/or snow. Without this natural process, many seeds simply will not germinate. It is called Mother Earth’s Cycle of Life. It’s continued from the very beginning, and shall continue until the end of days if allowed.

Human intervention has evolved to include artificial means of stratification. We have learned that soaking certain plant seeds in clear water, maybe using the addition of a natural, organic additive, sometimes helps germination to occur. We have learned to mimic Mother Nature’s way of cold stratification by sowing seeds in a planting medium, storing in a cold environment before planting. We have learned that some seeds need to have their shells scarified, or nicked or sanded down to the inner portion of the shell to allow the waiting embryo to emerge in it’s time. We have learned to mimic that which was natural, in order to hasten a plant’s growth. Should we? Absolutely! Some plant species are quickly becoming extinct due to mankind’s over zealous harvesting, land clearing or natural disasters. In order to save and propagate these species of plants, we should and do, intervene.

Some of the ways to hasten seeds to germinate are discussed below.

Cold Water Soaking:
You can use fresh tap water, preferably that which contains no chemicals. Rainwater is another good source of liquid for soaking. Adding liquid kelp (diluted per manufacturer’s instructions) to the water will hasten germination once the seed is planted.

Generally, seeds that appear wrinkly are seeds that need soaked for at least 24 hours before planting.

Seeds that need soaked before planting include:

Belladonna Henbane Black or White Mandrake
Monkshoods Okra Nasturtiums

Warm Stratification then Refrigeration:
You need something to hold the moisture in, such as a bit of sphagnum moss or peat moss for acid loving plants, clean sand, vermiculite that has been slightly moistened, paper towels for others. Slightly dampen the medium, place seeds in the medium and store in the refrigerator, in a zip lock bag, preferably for 3 months. If one doesn’t have that 3 month window, store at least 3 weeks. Liquid kelp diluted per the bottle’s instructions, will hasten germination for your seeds. Many seeds do better if placed in the dampened medium, kept in a warm place 59-68°F for 2 weeks then placed in the refrigerator. Check the bag’s contents weekly to look for signs of decay such as a musty smell, mold, or oozing seed matter. Most times that is as a result of improper packaging at the manufacturer’s, the seed is too old, seed may not have been stored properly during shipment or in the home, or contaminated seed. Remember that some seeds may not actually germinate until the second spring.

Even if the seeds germinate during this time period in the refrigerator, it is perfectly acceptable to plant, just as you would any other seed.

seed germination

Those seed would include:

Anise Hyssop Monkshood Masterwort
Belladonna Betony Motherwort
Mandrake (Black and White) Black cornflower Moonwort
Black Henbane Black nightshade Mugwort
Calamus Root Myrtle Pokeweed
Climbing Nightshade Cowslip Vervain
English Bluebells Red Pasque Flower Rose Milkweed
Green Wizard Coneflower Gray Sage Rowan
Harebell Russian belladonna Helebores
Heather Tansy Poppies
Valerian Hops Valerian
Jack in the Pulpit Old English lavendar Wolfsbane
Lily of the Valley Purple Coneflower Turtlehead
Meadowsweet Clematis Butterfly Bush
False Indigo Lady’s Mantle Bluebeard
Fuschias Foxtail Lily Peruvian Lily
German Status Ibiscus Sweet Peas
Catmint Evening Primrose Phlox (all)
Chinese Lantern Sweet Cicely Candytuft
Gloxinias Waxbells Bloodroot
prairie Mallow Speedwell Sedum
Stoke’s Aster Balloon Flower Viola
Globeflower Toad-lily Foamflower
Ironweed Black Eyed Susan Burnett
Soapwort Wild Rose Fruit tree seeds

Here is a link for all the seeds known to need stratification. It is listed by the genus and species names: It is written by seed expert Tom Clothier and is well worth the time to read. It contains multiple links for germination temperatures, stratification and scarification, garden pests, pollinators and such. (and)

A seed expert who’s works I enjoy reading, is Norm Deno. J Hudson seeds has multiple links to his seed starting methods written clearly and concisely. It contains vast information regarding all different types of plants including perennials, annuals trees, and vegetables.


Certain seeds with thick shells need to be scarified if they are going to be able to germinate. To do this, use a piece of sandpaper or a nail file to gently rub off part of the external shell. The best way to know how deep to rub is to rub until you can see a different color of shell appear. Do not rub all the way through the shell. It only needs to be rubbed down enough that water can get through the shell into the seed, and to allow the young, germinating embryo to emerge. Some seeds need both scarification and stratification.

How to scarify seeds.
seed scar with file

seed scar with sandpaper
Some examples of seed that need scarification are:

Morning Glory canna seeds purple hyacinth bean vine
Nut Tree Seeds Fruit tree seeds

Spring and direct planting:
Many seeds do not require special treatment such as soaking, scarification or stratification. They can be planted without inoculants, directly in the soil. For a complete list of these seeds, see the following link from Prairie Moon Nursery.


Fall Planting:
Fall planting may be an answer to having fresh produce all winter. Many old timers use this method, planting in cold frames, greenhouses, or on sunny, enclosed porches in containers. I’ve also seen used, cleaned old tractor tires

old tire planter   tire planterand livestock mineral lick buckets, containers covered with glass during the day…when the temperature is 35-45 degrees , and the glass covered with a piece of cardboard to maintain internal heat at nightfall. One newer gardener used clear Christmas tree lights inside his cold frame to provide warmth on the coldest days. This isn’t his light heated cold frame, but this picture conveys the general idea.

light heated cold frame

Some species of vegetables and flowers do well with fall (and early spring) planting. Brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy, kale, radishes), Mustard Greens,  spinach,  and parsnips have a sweeter taste when grown in cooler weather.


Happy Winter! Now is the time to stratify and/or scarify those seeds!!

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Educational Opportunity to Share

thIt’s the coldest day of the year, so I’ve literally spent hours online reading about gardening, building a new yahoo group entitled The Garden Spot and watching it grow exponentially in the last 24 hours. As I gazed through email from wonderful places like Johnny’s Seed, Winding River’s Herbs (someday, when we get back to UT to visit old workmates and browsing the countless Deseret Industry stores, I absolutely positively have to visit her) and many others, the following educational opportunity came across Johnny’s Seed site. I wanted to share it with you hoping you might benefit from it also.

Johnny's Selected Seeds

Interested in Starting a Hydroponics Business?

Interested in Starting a Hydroponics Business

Consider attending an upcoming 2-day short course on “Starting a Successful Hydroponics Business,” being offered twice next month.

The short course is designed for those considering the venture or who have recently started a hydroponic business. Attendees will enjoy hands-on learning at one of the premier facilities in the Southeast for teaching hydroponic growing in a working greenhouse setting: the UF/IFAS Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center near Live Oak, Florida. An optional tour provides an exclusive visit inside one of the most successful, modern greenhouse hydroponic operations in Florida.

Sponsor: University of Florida/Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences
Course Title: Starting a Successful Hydroponic Business
Dates: March 16-17 or March 20-21, 2015
Location: Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center, Live Oak, FL
Johnny's Selected Seeds

Enroll by March 6th to receive the Early Bird tuition discount. For more information, call Dilcia Toro or Karen Hancock at (386) 362-1725.

Register Today »

Collecting Fall Herbs: Field Day Friday

Do you look at the beauty of weeds like I do? Fields of the yellow tasseled goldenrod, roadsides covered in frilly blues of  chicory, happy looking Black eyed Susan’s and the purples of the many different types of thistle invigorate the sense of beauty as far as the eye can see. I see beauty all around me, but I also see the innate medicinal value of these plants as well. We have many of them growing on our farm. Some would tell me to cut them down, to pull them out, but I won’t. Instead, as nature does her work, I allow them to spread naturally. My husband has known me to bring home seeds and roots of some plants to transplant in our herb garden as well.

Being part Cherokee and having learned much from my elders, I know that all year long we are blessed with opportunity to gather wild herbs to save and use for different purposes. I can’t prescribe what herbs another should use, but I can share with you what different ones are used for, and allow you to make decisions for yourself. Also, having practiced as a Registered Nurse for 26 years, I will be the first to tell you to talk with your personal physician before using any herbal, holistic type of healthcare regimen. He or she and you, should decide what is best for your personal condition and go from there.

Today, I want to share with you one of the fall herbs that I’ve gathered, it’s medicinal values and how to collect and dry. Herbs, in general, should be collected in the mornings, after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the midday sun. Most herbs may be dried on a screen, covered with another screen or cheesecloth to keep off insects. Some herbs may be hung upside down, in small bunches, and allowed to air dry. Some people advocate drying herbs in a dehydrator or in the low heat of an oven. It’s a personal choice, but at our homestead, we don’t use either of those methods. My pantry looks like an upside down garden at the moment, and smells heavenly.

Today, let’s talk about goldenrod. goldenrod  These flowers amaze me. For so long, they’re been regarded as one of the worst allergens of the fall. They can cause issues for some, but do you know how medicinally good they are? Used for hundreds of yeas by Native Americans, they have antifungal properties, the saponins, that can help alleviate such yeast infections as oral thrush when a tea made from it is used as a gargle. It can be used for skin yeast infections or those elsewhere when used as a wash or rinse over it. Gargled, as a tea, it helps to stop coughs and sore throats. As a weak tea, it can help stop diarrhea naturally, without having to resort to chemical compounds found in over-the-counter medications. It’s been found to be an effective treatment in colitis and IBS.

Goldenrod tea is also beneficial for the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder. The saponins, tannins,  and flavonoids found in the flowers and leaves help keep infection and stones from forming in the urinary system.

Mixed with dandelion and thyme in a tea, it is an effective immune stimulating drink.

The usual dosage for a tea for ingestion or gargle is about 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb in a cupful of boiling water. Allow the herb to steep for about 10-15 minutes for the full effect, strain, sweeten with honey if desired, and drink. For gastrointestinal issues, it’s recommended to drink about 4 cups (1 quart) of tea daily.

We keep goldenrod planted on our farm, not just for medicine, but to draw in pollinators. goldenrod with bee

I love watching bees and butterflies visit the golden fronds goldenrod with butterfly. and coating their legs and bodies with the powdery pollen.

Goldenrod is associated with fall, the waning of the heat of the summer and watching the trees slip into the last final burst of glory. It’s fall already?  I am not ready to give summer up quite yet.