Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thankful for My Laundry Sorter

When we first moved into our house 8 years ago, we had one laundry basket and I sorted our laundry into piles in our master bedroom. And since I am the disciplined, on top of it person that I am, there were times when those piles would take up precious space in our room for *ahem* days at a time. Add a baby to the mix and I had a real laundry mess on my hands!

While shopping at Fred Meyer one day, I bought this little laundry sorter in desperation. It didn't look like much. In fact, I have to admit that it looked a little cheesy to me. All it consisted of was white PVC pipe and 3 white mesh laundry bags.

I had no idea that this laundry sorter would save my life. (Well, that might be a slight exaggeration. At least it saved the laundry aspect of my life.)

Now, as we throw laundry in the dirty clothes, we sort it. One quick glance at the laundry sorter shows me if I have a full load of laundry or not. (And in my home with 2 little kids, I almost always have at least one full load of laundry.) No more throwing dirty laundry all over my bedroom floor to get a handle on the laundry situation. At least twice a week I grab the laundry basket from my girls' room and sort it directly into our sorter and I am ready to go.

I am thankful that the laundry is organized. I am thankful that it is easy to see if I have a full load of laundry. I am so thankful for this cheap little laundry sorter!

What are you thankful for today?

 Come join me (and my friends at Adventures Of Raising A Baby In The City )! Every almost every Thursday, I will post something for which I am thankful, and I would love it if you participate as well. It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and, when practiced regularly, results in contentment. It can be anything: silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crispy Crashed Potatoes

One of the perks of attending Mom's Group at church is that sometimes you really feel like you hit the jackpot. A few weeks ago, that is exactly how I felt. A local chef came and did a cooking presentation. I felt like I had a front seat, exclusive session with one of those fabulous television cooking personalities. Deborah White (who taught cooking classes down at the Bayview School of Cooking) came and shared 4 amazing recipes with our group.

Although all 4 were fabulous, this recipe was certainly the easiest and my first one to try. I would say that it is definitely a keeper! My whole family loved Crispy Crashed Potatoes. They were absolutely delicious! The only thing I think I might do differently next time is to add some fresh chopped rosemary. I think rosemary and potatoes were just made to go together.


16 to 20 small red or Yukon gold potatoes (1 1/2 to 2 inch diameter) or about 12 medium sized potatoes, washed. (I only had gargantuan potatoes on hand, so I used about 5 potatoes.)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Place potatoes in large pot. Cover with at least 1 inch of water. Add 2 Tbsp. of salt. (Or do like I do and just dump salt until it feels like the water is thoroughly salted.)

2. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook the potatoes until they are completely tender. Make sure they are cooked through, but don't overcook. The total cooking time is around 30-35 minutes.

3. While potatoes are cooking, set up a dish towel folded in half and laying flat on the counter. When the potatoes are done, remove with a slotted spoon and lay on the dish towel to dry.

4. Meanwhile, cover a large rimmed sheet pan (I used my jelly roll pan) with foil. Drizzle the foil with 1/4 cup or so of extra virgin olive oil.

5. Place a potato on the oiled pan.

6. Fold another dish towel into quarters. Using the dish towel to cover your hand, gently press down on the potatoes with the palm of your hand to flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. (At this point you can let the potatoes come to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.)

7. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 450°.

8. Drizzle smashed/crashed potatoes with olive oil, a generous amount of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

9. Place in preheated oven and cook approximately 30-40 minutes or until they are crispy and deep brown in color. Serve immediately.

10. Smile as your children happily eat.

Dreamhost code

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Favorite Strawberry Necklace - Winner!

To determine the winner of this giveaway, I entered everyone's name into the list randomizer at 
Here are the results:

And the winner is: 


Christina, I will contact you through email so you can claim your prize. I hope you enjoy your new necklace!
Thank you to everyone who entered!

If you had your heart set on this beautiful strawberry necklace, you can buy one at Leila's etsy store for $25.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thankful Thursdays - My Bumper Sticker

Almost 6 years ago we began our search for the perfect family car. The transmission in our current car was going out (it had a manual transmission and first gear was gone). We also found out that I was pregnant with our second baby. Those two factors required that we get on the ball and search for a safe, reliable car. My husband asked his mechanic friend which cars he recommended. Of course Toyota and Honda topped the list, but they are extremely expensive. Following those, he suggested Subaru. After researching and looking for cars, we found a 1997 green Subaru Outback. It seemed just perfect for our little family.

The one thing that always seems to happen when you buy a car is that you suddenly notice that everyone else seems to have done the same thing. Copies of your new car begin to appear all over the place. (Well, it might just be that all of a sudden your powers of observation for your particular type of car have dramatically improved.) The difference this time, though, was that our friends and family noticed the same thing. We seem to have bought the most common make, model and color of car in our city. (We are one of at least 4 of the exact same style and color in our neighborhood alone.)

To be able to differentiate our car from all of those similar ones out there, we put a simple bumper sticker on our car. This, of course, only serves to differentiate it from a distance. If you want to walk up and look in the windows, our car is easy to spot. It has two booster seats and a pile of kids clothes, toys and papers on the floor in the back. Apparently those who are responsible for our car are not very good at keeping it picked up and clean. I am thankful for our bumper sticker, that it individualizes our otherwise commonplace car.

Even more than just setting our car apart from the masses, I love what our bumper sticker says. It is simple. It isn't complicated. You don't have to squint and get close to read it. (If you do need to get that close, you really shouldn't be driving and you need some new glasses.) In fact, it is only one word: Grace. It is only one word, but it carries a lot of meaning. A few of the definitions of grace from include:

  • a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment. 
  • favor or good will. 
  • a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.
  • mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace. 
  • favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity. 
  • moral strength: the grace to perform a duty. 
  • Theology.
    • the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God 
    • the influence or Spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them. 
    • a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces. 
    • Also called state of grace. the condition of being in God's favor or one of the elect.
Frequently, while driving, I am thankful for my bumper sticker. This sticker is not on the paint of our car, but on the window. (Yes, so that it will not ruin the paint.) The unintended result is that every time I glance at my rear view mirror, I see my bumper sticker.

I am reminded on the road to extend grace to the other drivers. There are many times on the road when I need to extend my good will, my mercy, my pardon, my temporary immunity. You know those times when someone cuts you off and is completely oblivious that they did it? Yes, that is an ideal time to extend grace. Driving is the perfect opportunity to practice showing grace to others.

And for those times when I am a less than stellar driver, when I am the one accidentally cutting someone off, I am asking for grace. I hope that as I wave my apology through the window, that there is a chance they may see this bumper sticker. We all make mistakes. We all need grace.

I am thankful for the way my bumper sticker identifies my car. I am thankful for the way my bumper sticker has changed the way I view other drivers on the road. I am thankful for the way my bumper sticker asks other drivers to extend grace to me when I make a mistake. I am thankful for my bumper sticker.

 Come join me (and my friends at Adventures Of Raising A Baby In The City )! Every almost every Thursday, I will post something for which I am thankful, and I would love it if you participate as well. It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and, when practiced regularly, results in contentment. It can be anything: silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Favorite Strawberry Necklace - Giveaway!

The evening before our wedding, my husband surprised me with a diamond necklace as a wedding gift. I put it on immediately and practically did not take it off again for years. It was nice to have a piece of jewelry that matched everything I wore! I didn't have to worry about it clashing or being not very stylish. (A diamond necklace is timeless, right?) As far as jewelry goes, I still tend to prefer something small, that is a gentle accent, and that necklace worked beautifully for quite some time.

When my oldest daughter was about 6 months old, I met Leila Carras at Mom's Group at our church. She always wore beautiful and interesting jewelry and I soon discovered that she was a glass artist. As much as I appreciated and admired her beads, I knew myself to be boring in the jewelry department. Why bother purchasing beautiful beads if they would only decorate my jewelry box? What was the point of that?

Later that year, she gifted me my first bead made by her. As thankful as I was for the gift, I almost felt guilty. I knew myself and my consistently mundane jewelry wearing tendencies. I felt a little overwhelmed. What am I going to do with this beautiful bead?!?

When my second daughter was born, I found it difficult to avoid losing my diamond from my necklace. You see, she loved to grab my necklace and yank. After frantically searching for the diamond several times and then replacing the broken chain, I gave up. Placing my sentimentally valuable diamond in my jewelry box, I decided I would wear it only for special occasions.

A new problem arose: I was used to wearing a necklace. It felt weird to not wear one at all. Thankfully, I had this great friend who made these amazing beads. I began to wear her beads on black cord. (The black cord was not as attractive as a gold or silver chain, but it held up much better to my yanking daughter.)

This picture does not do these beads justice!
I started my bead collection and the rest, I would say, is now history. I have now been collecting Leila's beads for about 4 years. Each piece I have is precious to me in its own way. You see, each bead is handmade and unique. Even though some are similar, none are exactly the same.

Currently, my favorite bead to wear is this little tiny strawberry. (Could it be because I receive so many compliments while wearing it? No. It couldn't have anything to do with that. I am certainly not that vain.) I love how small it is. As I said before, while some people prefer large, bulky jewelry, I feel much more comfortable wearing something small. So this is what I am giving away!

The giveaway:

The lucky winner of this giveaway will receive a Little Tiny Strawberry Necklace, which includes the locally handmade small strawberry bead on a 16" sterling silver chain.

To enter the giveaway:

1. Follow/subscribe to this blog. (Why follow? Here is a great article about why.)


2. Leave a comment below sharing which of her beads is your favorite (check out her etsy page or facebook if you don't already have a favorite) or what you would like to see her make.

One extra entry in the giveaway for each of the following:

1. Share about this giveaway on your facebook. (Um, if we aren't friends on facebook, you will probably need to leave me a comment letting me know that you did this.)

2. Share about this giveaway on your blog. (Again, letting me know certainly would not hurt.)

3. Enter the giveaway on Adventures Of Raising A Baby In The City by going here. (Giveaway was extended until the end of this week.)

Enter this giveaway until Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. The winner will be randomly selected and then announced on Monday, March 28, 2011!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Triple Strawberry Cake

Last year when I asked Ayla what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday, she responded "Strawberry cake." What? Who has ever heard of strawberry cake? Well, I certainly hadn't. But that didn't stop me.

I set out searching for a great homemade, from scratch strawberry cake recipe on my favorite recipe source: Google. As I weeded through recipes calling for strawberry jello mix or based on a white cake mix, I finally stumbled across one that looked promising on a blog.

Instead of testing it out to see if it was a reliable recipe or not, I placed complete trust in the blogger and made it into cupcakes for Ayla's birthday party. (It never ceases to confound and amaze my husband that I consistently subject myself to public failure by trying out my new recipes on those unlucky enough to ask me to bring a dish to their house or come over to my house for dinner.) They turned out great and our neighbor even asked for the recipe. (See, experimentation and creativity can be a good thing!)

So this year when Ayla asked for strawberry cake again, I was prepared. (Actually, she asked for strawberry, carrot, chocolate cake, but I wasn't brave enough to attempt combining all of those into one cake. My family can thank me later.) I dug out my recipe from last year and headed to the store for some fresh strawberries.

Here is how I made the cake:

1. Grind up enough flour for the recipe. What? You don't grind your own flour? Well, you really should. It is so much better for you. Here is a great article on the health benefits. (Okay, I know, most of you will probably just skip this step. I am okay with that.)

I used soft wheat berries from Joseph's Grainery purchased through Olympia Local Foods. I ground the wheat on the lowest setting and what results is very similar to a whole wheat pastry flour that you would buy at the grocery store, except that mine will taste better. Everything just tastes better fresh! And trust me, most people won't even realize that I used whole wheat flour.

2.Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour 3 - 8x2 inch round cake pans. (If you try and squeak by with just 2 pans, it will overflow. Don't ask how I know.)

To grease a pan, my mom taught me to put my hand inside a plastic bag and then use my plastic covered fingers to grease the pan. I am sure a latex glove would work just as well. I know this is kind of wasteful, but, oh well.

To flour your now greased pan, dump in a little bit of flour (maybe 2 Tablespoons). Tip it around all directions until the bottom and sides of your pan are thoroughly coated with flour. (This is best done over a garbage can. I normally don't remember this wonderful tip until I get it all over my floor and need to sweep.) After the pan is all coated with flour, pour the rest of the flour into the garbage and tap the pan a few times to get most of the flour off.

3. Wash and de-stem the strawberries. I used my Pampered Chef Core & More tool for this. It worked great!

4. Puree the strawberries. You know, I didn't count how many strawberries I used or measure them. I probably should have, but I just filled up this container. To puree the strawberries, I used my much loved immersion blender. That thing is amazing and made short work of the strawberries. (My friend wrote a post about how much she lover her immersion blender here.)

5. Measure 1 1/2 cups pureed strawberries and add to large bowl. I just dump everything in my Kitchenaid mixer bowl. The recipe said to strain the berries to remove the seeds, but I didn't bother. It seemed like a lot of work and totally unnecessary to me. No one has complained about strawberry seeds yet.

6. Beat the eggs, then add to the bowl. I used 5 eggs from our Ameraucana chicken. (She generally lays about a medium sized egg.) If you are using store bought eggs, the recipe actually calls for 4 large eggs.

7. Add remaining ingredients. Add 3 cups flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract , 1 tsp lemon zest, 4 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt.

8. Mix cake batter. I started it on low speed and then beat it on medium speed until it was well combined and, well, I thought it looked right.

9. Pour into greased and floured pans. Cook at 325° for 25-30 minutes, or until until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips.

10. When done, remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes in cake pans then invert onto wire racks and reinvert onto more wire racks so that they cool, top sides up. (Yes, there is a third cake, but this is all I could fit in the picture.)

11. Make strawberry filling. Combine 2 cups sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp cornstarch in pan. Cook over medium heat. The berries will cook down and break apart. I didn't bother mashing them at all since I like chunks.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil and stir for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and no longer opaque. When it is done, stick it in the fridge to cool.

12. Make frosting. (Forgot to take pictures of this part.) I used 1/2 cup butter, 1 lb. powdered sugar, a splash of vanilla and enough leftover strawberry puree to make the frosting the right consistency. Again using my Kitchenaid mixer, I beat it until it was a nice, spreadable consistency.

13. Build the cake. Place the thickest layer on the bottom, add about half of the filling, add second layer, add the rest of the filling then place final layer on top.

14. Frost and decorate. Generously frost the whole cake. I used the last of the strawberries to decorate the cake on the sides and with a number 5 on top.

15. Eat and enjoy. This is all that was left.

If you would rather have the recipe in a better format, here you go.

Strawberry Cake (adapted from here):

Grease or butter, for pans
All-purpose flour, for pans
3 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup pureed strawberries
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 large eggs, beaten
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.
2. Prepare the cake batter; in a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pureed strawberries, vanilla, lemon zest, and eggs, baking powder and salt.
3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips, 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Strawberry filling:
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Combine in pan. Cook over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil and stir for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and no longer opaque.

Strawberry frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-3 Tablespoons strawberry puree

Beat butter and powdered sugar until crumbly. Add vanilla and 1 Tablespoon strawberry puree. Beat on medium speed. Slowly beat in more strawberry puree until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thankful Thursdays - Ayla

Today I am thankful for my little Ayla girl. March 17 was my due date with Ayla, but thankfully for mommy, she was born 2 days early. Happy 5th birthday, sweet girl!

Ayla has always been a physically active girl. As a baby, she would kick one leg the whole time she was nursing. She crawled at 6 months and then walked at 9 months. At 13 months I found her in a windowsill in our living room. In fact, her 1 year old class Sunday School teachers nicknamed her "kamikaze" for a very good reason. At the park, other parents would frequently comment on how extremely active she is. Now, she has been riding a Razor scooter for over a year and enjoys doing "tricks" on it. Her most recent physical accomplishment is learning to ride her bike. It took her under 5 minutes to learn (including starting and stopping on her own)! I am thankful for my squirmin' wormin', my crazy girl.


Being physically active has never stopped Ayla from loving all things sparkly and pretty. She is just as happy playing dress up as she is riding her bike. For Christmas of 2009 she received a box of dress up clothes and I wish I could show you a video of how frantically she changed outfits. It looked like she was in some sort of world record outfit changing competition. What is a beautiful outfit without high heels? She loves the click clack sound of high heels (real or dress up) as she prances around the house. For such a physically active girl, it never ceases to amaze me that she enjoys getting a manicure or pedicure with grandma and will sit completely still for it! I am thankful for my little princess.

Ayla loves to help in the kitchen. She sits on the counter while I cook, suggesting spices or ingredients to add and stirring for me. I am thankful for my kitchen assistant.

Ayla is my snuggly girl. This girl could not survive without her daily dose of snuggles and "skin" time. I am thankful for my snuggle bug.

Come join me (and my friends at Adventures Of Raising A Baby In The City )! Every almost every Thursday, I will post something for which I am thankful, and I would love it if you participate as well. It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and, when practiced regularly, results in contentment. It can be anything: silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Super Easy Over Easy Eggs

One thing I inherited from my dad is a love for breakfast foods. My mom was happy waiting to eat until lunch time, but my dad loved breakfast. On the weekend our family would either go out to breakfast or my mom would make us a breakfast such as waffles with strawberries, eggs with bacon and hash browns, pancakes or muffins.

In my family, I am the one who loves breakfast. My husband and kids are content with cold cereal and milk or a piece of toast. Me? I would rather have toast, eggs and coffee. Or maybe an egg omelet with broccoli and cheese. Or how about a breakfast burrito. I can even go for oatmeal with berries and maple syrup. But cold cereal and milk? No thank you.

This morning was no exception. I cooked our eggs my favorite way: over easy. There is just something mouth-wateringly delicious about chewy egg whites with soft, runny yolk. Eggs are not one of the easiest foods to cook and cooking them in a cast iron pan just adds to the difficulty. After much trial and error, I have finally perfected the art of over easy eggs cooked in my cast iron pan.

Here is how I make my over easy eggs:

I start with my favorite, much loved, well seasoned cast iron skillet. Preheat this wonderful pan to medium heat (this is on my gas range). Next, add a generous helping of real butter. I probably used about a tablespoon or so. Coat the pan evenly with the sizzling butter.

Crack the eggs directly into the pan. I immediately sprinkle the eggs with sea salt. (My current favorite sea salt is Real Salt which comes in both a regular or kosher/coarse grind. Mine is the regular grind.) Next I generously grind pepper all over the eggs. And yes, it must be fresh ground. The taste is far superior to store bought pre-ground pepper. Once you switch you will never go back.

When the egg whites are mostly firm, get ready to flip those eggs! I never thought about how to describe this since I never use a timer and just watch for the eggs to get to that perfect, flippable stage. When they look about ready, I use my spatulata to separate the eggs from each other. (If they stay separated, they should be ready to flip.) Run the spatula around the edges of each egg, then totally commit to the flip by quickly shoving the spatula under the egg and flipping it over. (I like to flip them in such a way that the part of the egg that was in the middle of the pan is now on the outside and vice versa. That way my eggs cook pretty evenly.)

After a minute or so, I check to make sure that the egg whites are cooked. If the egg whites are cooked all the way through, use your spatula to scoop the yumminess off the pan and onto your plate.

Here is what is left on my pan after scooping the eggs off of the pan. Nothing is stuck! All this pan needs is a quick rinse under hot water; no scrubbing necessary.

To my eggs I added my rosemary onion diced potatoes. The potatoes were leftover from Tuesday, but after reheating in a skillet, they taste as fresh and delicious as the day they were made. Now this is my idea of a wonderful breakfast. My coffee isn't pictured, but trust me, it was there... and delicious. (Here is how I make my coffee.)

Now take a look at these perfectly runny yolks. I know some people cannot stand the thought of runny yolks, but I think eggs are wonderful this way. Runny yolks are like a quick and easy Hollandaise sauce for the eggs and potatoes.

Did you know that egg yolks are incredibly good for you? Check out this article explaining how healthy egg yolks are. You will never toss another egg yolk!

So go ahead, make yourself some over easy eggs and savor each bite.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thankful Thursdays - Candles

Today, I am thankful for candles. I am not sure how or where candles originated (and I don't really feel like doing the research right now), but I am convinced they must have been divinely inspired. In the beginning their purpose probably was primarily to provide light. Today, though, candles seem to mean so much more.

I love how lighting candles changes the whole feel of a room. As a candle burns, it emits such amazing fragrances. Sometimes candles will convince you that cinnamon rolls are baking in the oven, fresh fruit has recently been sliced, sugar cookies are cooling, or a fresh pot of coffee is ready. (Or, as has been the case recently, a burning candle can cover offensive odors such as fresh or cooked onion. As much as I like onions, I don't prefer for my house to smell like onion for days.)

When the lights are out or dim, the flicker of the candle's flame can be mesmerizing. The light dims and brightens with each flicker. As a child I remember celebrating the arrival of a storm. In preparation, we would dig through cupboards and bring all of the candles to a central location, lighting a few just in case the power went out. Without power, almost all of our light source would be from candles. By candlelight we ate, played games, read books and once I even tried to put in my contacts. As much as a I love candlelight, when first learning to insert contacts, I really don't recommend it.

Today, as I walk past my kitchen table with candles burning in the middle, I glance over and smile. Candles just make me happy.

Come join me (and my friends at Adventures Of Raising A Baby In The City )! Every almost every Thursday, I will post something for which I am thankful, and I would love it if you participate as well. It is medicine for the soul to give thanks and, when practiced regularly, results in contentment. It can be anything: silly, personal, or blog related. Just take a moment to give thanks!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Oh Beans

One day a friend of mine asked me if I would like to join her canning beans. What? You mean you don't have to buy them canned? You can actually can them yourself? What an amazing concept! Since she was an experienced home canner and seemed confident that I wouldn't singlehandedly ruin the process, I agreed to try it. Well, more like I agreed to assist her canning beans.

Since that day, I have been hooked on canned beans. What's not to love? The cost is seriously cheaper than purchasing canned whole or refried beans. Like everything else homemade, they taste better than store bought. Also, making them at home just feels good. I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment after we finish canning 25 pounds of beans. I don't know if they are actually healthier simply because I canned them myself, but it feels like they are.

So, how do you can beans? So glad you asked. Let me attempt to describe the process to you. (Of course, it would really be better if you just came and joined us.)

Purchase beans. I like to buy organic beans. Sort through the beans and pick out any bits of dirt or small rocks. Buying organic beans seems to dramatically reduce the amount of junk in the beans. (These are pictures of pinto beans.)

Collect your supplies. You will need a pile of clean canning jars (we mostly use quart sized jars), lids and rings. I would love to give you an exact amount, but I can never remember how many. Salt is another necessity. A couple of other handy dandy items are a jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, and a canning funnel. Of course, you cannot can beans without a pressure canner.

Soak the beans. The night before you plan to can beans, start the beans soaking. For 25 pounds, I use my waterbath canner and 2 or 3 stockpots to soak the beans. Don't forget that the beans will expand a lot! I generally try to only fill the pot 1/3 with beans then fill the pot to the brim with water.

Dump out the soaking water. At this point, I dump out the soaking water, pack the soaked beans into the car, try to fit my kids in the car and head to my friend's house. She has the pressure canners and, well, we have just always canned the beans over at her house. (If the soaking water seems exceptionally dirty, give the beans an extra rinse. Again, organic beans are cleaner and will save you time here!)
Fill the pot with water and bring the beans to a boil. Yes, it may take quite some time to come to a "full rolling boil" since this is a huge pot of beans. Once they are boiling, set the timer for 30 minutes.

While boiling, skim off the foam. I have heard that the impurities rise to the top and also that skimming off the foam helps to reduce the gassy properties of beans. I don't know if these things are true, but the foam sure does look gross and it gives me something to do while waiting for the beans to finish boiling.

Simmer the sealing lids. When getting down to the last 5 or so minutes on the timer, start the lids simmering. This is one of the canning basics, whether you are using a waterbath canner or a pressure canner.

Fill jars with beans. Here is where that canning funnel comes in very handy. Fill the jars with beans and water up to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the top. We always end up using additional water to fill up the jars, so have some boiling hot water ready.

Add salt. Using quart sized jars, add 1 tsp. of salt. Well, ahem, that is the suggested amount of salt. The beans just taste better if you use 2 tsp. of sea salt. (If you are canning pint sized jars, use half the salt.)
Seal the jars. Wipe the rims with a damp, clean rag to remove any bean water or salt residue. Yes, those things can keep the jars from sealing and after all this trouble, unsealed jars is a drag. Use the magnetic lid lifter to remove the lids from the simmering water. Place the lid on the clean rim then screw on a ring.

Add water to the pressure canner. Add water up to your first knuckle. Do you just love that precise measurement?

Add sealed jars to the pressure canner. By the way, it is much easier to place the pressure canner where you plan to process the beans before filling the canner with beans. We have a small canner (holds 7 quarts) and a large canner (holds 16 quarts) going at the same time.

Seal the pressure canner. Place the canner lid on top and secure the pressure canner. Start heating up the canner until it begins to steam. Allow the canner to steam for 15 minutes, then close the pressure valve.
Process the beans. Watch the pressure carefully and once the canner gets to 10 pounds of pressure, stabilize the heat to keep the pressure constant. Process pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes. (This pressure gauge is off, which is why it is marked at 14 pounds of pressure.)

Slowly relieve the pressure and remove the lid. After the processing time is completed, turn off the heat and patiently wait for the pressure to come down. Once there is no more pressure, carefully remove the lid.

Remove the beans. Now use the jar lifter and remove the beans from the canner, placing them on a counter top. Use a towel on the counter if you would like to avoid an extremely sticky counter. Now listen to the beautiful popping sound of the jars sealing and leave the jars alone for 24 hours.

Heat up some tortillas, grate some cheese, and break the rules by cracking open a jar of beans since, of course, they taste best fresh. Enjoy the delicious fruits of your labor. Mmmmm......

Oh, and the kids! Check on the kids!