#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

What’s Cookin’?

The whole house smells mighty good as I write these words.  I have a small turkey stewing in my 18-gallon roaster/slow cooker–the big bird, reserved for Thanksgiving, when my dear friends Jean and Curt will be visiting, is still in the freezer, awaiting the big day.

Since my food-preservation odyssey began, I use that big appliance so often that I just keep it on the counter.  I’ve had it for years, and it sat gathering dust in a closet forever; truth to tell, I was disappointed in the thing, since, being a naive cook at the time, I purchased it to roast–well–turkey.  I know all you veteran cooks out there see this coming–the roaster roasts, all right, but it doesn’t brown the meat or poultry in the process.  Who wants to eat a white turkey, no matter how juicy?  Not I.  So I put the thing away and forgot about it–until a couple of years ago, when I got on a bone-broth kick.  :)  Out came the oversized crockpot, and it proved to be just the ticket.  These days, I use it for making stock and huge batches of soup to put up for those snowy nights this winter.  (Nothing like a good, hearty chicken stock when the cold-and-flu season is in high gear.)

So, why am I cooking a turkey in the thing, you may be asking, quite understandably?

Because I plan to can the meat for use this winter–it will be great in casseroles, soups or just warmed up and served with some of my homemade cranberry sauce.  And once the turkey is ready to be put into Mason jars and pressure-canned, I will strain the broth–bye-bye white turkey skin–and can that, too.  I’m what they call an ingredient canner, since most of what I put up is meant to be paired up with something else.  It will be lovely, after a long day of writing, to whip up an easy, nutritious meal.  (If you’ve canned your own food, you know that the quality can’t be beaten by anything on the shelves of your local supermarket.)

I am by no means an expert at this enterprise, mind you.  I know how to use a pressure canner safely–for years I was terrified of the things: we’ve all heard the horror stories–and I am very, very careful to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.  Although today’s canners have extra safety features, there are dangers–a plugged valve, for instance, can still result in a nasty explosion, the kind that requires an unscheduled kitchen remodel, at best, and very possibly a long stint in the burn ward.    Not a happy prospect.  I had to learn to trust myself to concentrate on each task–I have ADD, so concentration is a challenge–but I do it, step by step.  My only regret, where stocking the pantry is concerned, is that I let fear stop me for so long.  Canning is a homey pleasure, and the satisfaction I derive from it is well worth all that paying attention.  :)  It’s nice to know there is plenty of food in the house, lest we get one of our famous wind or ice storms, or simply find ourselves snowed in, since I live in the country.

Another great thing about my newest hobby is this: I don’t have to wait for harvest time to tackle a batch of this, that or the other thing.  I recently re-canned tomato sauce, for instance, having purchased several gigantic cans of the stuff–who knew?  I buy chicken drumsticks, thighs and breasts on sale, and can them.  The drumsticks and thighs look pretty unappetizing in the jars–which is why they’re usually referred to, at least on YouTube, as ‘ugly chicken’–but they are absolutely delicious.  My next project, after the turkey and broth/stock will be elderberry syrup, which is a great cold and flu preventative–with the added benefit of tasting wonderful on pancakes or ice cream.

So, I admit it.  My name is Linda and I am powerless over canning.


21 comments to “What’s Cookin’?”

  1. Jackie
      · November 13th, 2019 at 1:53 pm · Link

    You go girl !!!!

  2. Diane Ball
      · November 13th, 2019 at 2:03 pm · Link

    Elderberry syrup sounds so yummy. I haven’t canned in ages. Might just need to get back into it.

    White skin yuckkk. Lol

  3. P
      · November 13th, 2019 at 2:55 pm · Link

    Never have gotten over the fear of canning. Canned tomatoes once and they looked so disgusting I threw them away. Learned since then they were okay. The tomatoes just had too much water in them. Happy that canning is giving you joy but I’ve let one experience ruin it for me.

  4. Teresa Fordice
      · November 13th, 2019 at 3:30 pm · Link

    I am so excited to be riding along with you again on your journey!!

  5. Virginia Gail Hurt
      · November 13th, 2019 at 4:07 pm · Link

    I don’t can anymore but use to when I lived at home. MY younger sister does can though. I was just at her house over the weekend and she had boxes of tomato juice and green bean in her upstairs bedroom. I am not sure what all she had but did see the tomato juice and green beans. I think she cans the green beans in the oven I know they are very good. The tomato juice was so pretty in the jar.

  6. Debbie Matthys
      · November 13th, 2019 at 4:16 pm · Link

    Green beans and tomatoes are my favorite to can. It is cold and snowing here so a big pot of chili using home canned tomatoes sounds wonderful and warming. Love reading your blogs.

  7. Ruby Norwood
      · November 13th, 2019 at 4:41 pm · Link

    Linda, I’m was trying to catch up on my emails today , and this popped up first. I didn’t know I had more from you until I clicked on Comment. I was so glad to hear from you. I always enjoyed your blogs, and Lord you have been a busy lady , doing all that canning, Hope you are still writing books. I really enjoyed” The Yankee Widow!! Hope we see a follow up in the future.

  8. Joanne Bitts
      · November 13th, 2019 at 6:00 pm · Link

    Linda, welcome back. It’s great to hear from you again. I haven’t tried canning, & living in AZ it’s not really necessary with a lot of farms & fresh produce, but I love to bake. I have a great-niece at Northern Arizona University who I keep supplied with goodies for late night study sessions. Her favorite are Lemon Cookies, which is made with cake mix of all things. She does receive healthy snacking items but her request when returning this fall were for the cookies.

    Welcome back to blogging it’s great to hear your voice & excitement again. Life is beautiful once more.


  9. Gloria Griffin Herring
      · November 13th, 2019 at 6:56 pm · Link

    You’re stocking up on good stuff. I never learned to can and have always been afraid of pressure cookers. My mama and both grannies canned, and had a garden. My mama’s mama used to fry the best chicken and when it was done and brown, she’d put it in a small pressure cooker and I’m not sure exactly what she did, but that was the most delicious,tender chicken, and was still crisp.

  10. Melaine Langi
      · November 13th, 2019 at 6:58 pm · Link

    Loved your story on canning. I no longer do it, but spend many happy hours with my grandmother while she did the canning and I think I just got in the way.

    I’ve already pre-purchased your next book and I’m really looking forward to it coming out.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you!

  11. Valdi McCoy
      · November 13th, 2019 at 8:14 pm · Link

    Glad to read your blogs again! Looking forward to reading more of your books!

  12. Marilyn Bradley
      · November 13th, 2019 at 10:38 pm · Link

    Hello Linda :)
    So THRILLED you are blogging again! Have missed you
    mightily :-( My favorite Linda books are the “Western Romance”.

    When will you give us another one of those…… SOON I hope.
    I have often been told, Marilyn, you are a hopeless romantic!

    Soooo. that’s ‘Just Me’ :-D Again, thanks for sharing your
    life, thoughts, ideas and love with us-your devoted fans.

    Marilyn Bradley-North Carolina

  13. Lois Rotella
      · November 14th, 2019 at 9:41 pm · Link

    I do not can because I live in a small apartment. My cousin’s wife cans all kinds of things. They live in the country upstate NY. She cans blueberries, apples, onions,and other things that I do not remember.

  14. Ann Bartholomew
      · November 14th, 2019 at 9:42 pm · Link

    I can almost smell the turkey cooking now!

  15. Evelyn Baldwin
      · November 18th, 2019 at 1:26 pm · Link

    Hope you and your family have a Blessed Thanksgiving! I’ve never canned. My Mom use to can pickle beets, green peppers, sour craute and tomatoes. I remember sitting down and eating a pint of sour green peppers! So good! Good Ole Day’s! Been listening to your audio book’s. Susan Bennett is my favorite narrator. She takes her time to emphasize the word’s. Sincerely, Evelyn

  16. DONNA
      · November 19th, 2019 at 11:08 am · Link

    Hello Linda! Loved your blog. I guess being a a city girl canning isn’t something my family did. I just finished Yankee Widow. I loved it. Could not put it down read it in less than 3 days


  17. Ann Bartholomew
      · December 6th, 2019 at 10:44 am · Link

    I am once again re-re-reading my Christmas favorites and top of the list is A Lawman’s Christmas. I simply love the story of Clay, Dara Rose, and her girls. Next up will be Piper and Sawyer. Thank you for these and other stories that keep me waiting for the next book to come out!

  18. midge watkins
      · December 6th, 2019 at 4:53 pm · Link

    Linda, You are so cute! I don’t have ADD and have a hard time getting started on almost anything. Once I do, I really go at
    it until my energy runs out, which is usually a short time with
    emphysema and all over arthritis. But, we girls are tough and
    must make good use of the time we have here. Take care.

  19. Keshav Jindal
      · December 10th, 2019 at 11:16 pm · Link

    The article is very good. Thank you so much for sharing.

  20. Dahmmm
      · December 13th, 2019 at 11:39 pm · Link

    Its inspiring to see someone so devoted to writing explore new hobbies!

    Can on Linda, can on!

  21. Ramona Long
      · January 2nd, 2020 at 11:36 pm · Link

    Just learned of your blog, loved your canning stories! Love your books!!!!

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