Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why I Have Not Blogged Much Lately

 I have been rather busy the last several weeks attempting to keep up with all that my woods, orchard, and garden are giving me in this lush season of harvest.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bio-luminescence: The Glowing Wood Chips

This past weekend, DH and I were up north at "our" cabin.  It's really his mother's cabin, and before it belonged to his mother, it belonged to her parents.  And before her father built it, way back when she was a child, the land it is on belonged to her grandparents and her great-grandparents before them.  Her ancestral family was one of the first to settle in that particular county of Michigan, and traces their lineage back to French fur trappers.  But DH calls it "our" cabin because some day in the hopefully way distant future, when his mother passes away, he will inherit it along with his three siblings.

The reason we were up at our cabin was because his mother's eldest sister passed away last week.  She had been ill for many years with I don't know what (first, decades ago, it was diagnosed as Parkinsons, but in recent years the family had been told that it wasn't actually that particular disease), and had lived in a nursing home for the past couple of years.  A few months ago she was put in hospice care, and for the final week of her life, the whole family was on a death watch, just waiting for the dreaded phone call to come in  (her daughters and several of her siblings who lived nearby took turns being with her round the clock, but the rest of us went on with our day to day lives and waited for the official phone call).

So, when the call did finally reach DH, he and I made plans to get time off of work to travel up north for the funeral.  That is how Sunday night found us at our cabin.

Our cabin has neither electricity nor running water.  It is rustic.  Almost a mile off the main road, it is accessible only by a two-track.  Water is obtained by operating an outdoor hand pump on a well his grandfather drilled way before DH was born.  Bathroom facilities are a little square blue building that currently resides over a pit that was dug only about a dozen years ago.  Prior to that it sat about 30 feet further southwest on a different pit that eventually wasn't very deep at all.  Hence the new location over a new pit.  Lacking a crescent moon on the door, it is otherwise your stereotypical one-holer.

In this century, the cabin has undergone some remodeling and an expansion.  Instead of being two bedrooms, able to sleep about six people not all that comfortably, it now has two bedrooms with a double bed in each, plus a large bunk room with beds to sleep an additional ten people.  In 2011, Christmas with DH's siblings, brothers-in-law, nephews and mother (in addition to DH, DS2, DD1, DD2, and myself) was spent at the cabin, and every bed was full.  A few people, the less hardy (or fearful of mice), slept at DH's mother's house down the main road.

This summer, the dining area of the cabin is having knotty pine tongue-in-groove paneling installed on the ceiling and walls.  It not only looks wonderful, but it ties DH's grandparents strongly to the new additions.  In the dining addition (it was built in 2008), the paneling going up is made from trees they had planted in the 1950's; white pines that needed thinning by the turn of the century, and were selectively cut down by DH and our two sons, plus his brother, their mother, and a few friends.  His grandparents planted the trees, three younger generations harvested the trees, the trees were milled into lumber, DH and his brother ran the boards through the planer and the shaper to create the paneling, and his mother and DD1 stained the paneling.  Now, in the past month, DH and his brother have spent a few days installing the paneling in the cabin.

Earlier in the summer, when DH was up north for the planing and shaping of the boards into paneling during his week of vacation around the Fourth of July, he had chopped a little at an old rotting stump that sits only about eight feet from the front stoop of the cabin.  The stump has been there for years, slowing rotting away, and DH likes to chop at it when he can.  His goal is to eventually get the stump down to where it is no longer a tripping hazard in the dark.  (After all, the last thing you want to do on an outhouse run in the middle of the night is find yourself face-down on the other side of the stump with some severely stubbed toes and maybe wet shorts).

That night in July, after he had chopped at the stump, he did make a middle of the night outhouse run, and in his mostly-still-sleeping stupor, he saw something just outside the cabin door that made him rush back inside and wake me from a sound sleep.

"Something is out there!"  He told the very groggy me.  "Get up and come see!"

Now, it is not unusual to see deer at the cabin.  Before we bought this little place here, the cabin is where we went every whitetail hunting season.  Nor is it unusual to kick up turkey or grouse, although usually not after dark.  Coyote and bear tracks abound, and one year there was frequently found a large set of canid tracks we think may have been a wolf or two checking out the area.  We have occasionally seen black bear during the early morning or dusky evening hours.  We have also, many more times, sat out at the fire pit late at night, and conversed with the coyotes.  DD1 is a talented coyote caller.

So, even though it was three a.m., I threw the covers back and got out of bed.  What I saw, when I stepped out on the stoop, was faint blue lights at ground level.  Dozens of them, glowing dimly, and not moving.

"What is it?!?"  DH asked.

I was fully awake now.  Fully awake, and excited.  And also knowing exactly what it was.  Knowing what it was, and not quite believing that I was actually there, actually seeing it.

"It's foxfire!"  I exclaimed.  "I read about it a couple of times."  (Most vividly in Gary Paulsen's book Winterdance).  "But I've never seen it."

Until now.  Boy, was it cool.  And boy, was I overjoyed to be awake at 3 a.m. on a warm July night.  The unearthly blue glow, in spots all over the ground before me, was something to experience.

"Foxfire?"  DH repeated.  "What is it?"

The scientific naturalist part of me took over.  "It's bio-luminescence.  It's microbes, fungi I think, that emit light.  It's all the wood chips you made chopping at that stump today.  They must have the microbes in them and that's what's glowing."

"Fungus?  Are you sure?"  DH, the guy with the bachelor's degree in a science field, sounded pretty doubtful of my knowledge.

"Yes.  It's foxfire.  At least, that's what they call it in Appalachia."  (My father's side of the family is from Appalachia for almost 200 years now.)

He still didn't quite believe me, but it was a sight to behold.  So much so, that the next morning he told his mom all about it.  That night, however, there was no glowing anything.  We checked.  Several times.  And the following night, still nothing.

Back at home, I made use of my electric home with internet capabilities, and looked up bio-luminescence.  Yep, I was right.  Glowing fungi, microbes that lived in the rotting wood of the stump, that after DH had turned that rotten wood into dozens of little chunks and exposed the fungi to the air, emitted a pale light for a limited amount of time.  Light so pale that it could only be seen in the pitch black darkness of a night at the cabin, where, deep in the woods with no electricity, there are no interior lights making an ambient glow outside.

This weekend, when we went up for his aunt's funeral, DH took a little time to chop at that stump in the middle of the day.  That night, when there was no campfire glow (it had been too windy to light a fire), and when we'd decided to head in the cabin to go to bed because it was full dark outside, we noticed a faint glow.  And then more.  And more.  The darker it got (the sky was filling with clouds and blocking out the moon and stars; storms would hit before morning), the more ghostly blue-white glows we noticed on the ground in front of the cabin.  The foxfire was back, in the fresh wood chips DH had chopped from the stump that afternoon.

Even though it was nearly eleven o'clock at night, DH got out his cell phone (which intermittently gets signal at the cabin) and called to his mother's house a few miles away.

"Get out of bed!"  He told her.  "Throw on your robe; I'm coming to take you for a ride.  There's something at the cabin you'll want to see."

Now, usually you'd think twice about calling an almost seventy year old woman after her bedtime.  And unless it was an utmost emergency, you wouldn't tell her to get out of bed and go for a ride.  Especially three days after her sister died.  But, well, DH and I get our not-quite normalness from somewhere, and I think a good shot of his came from his mother's side of the family.  Because when we drove up to her house five minutes later, she was standing outside, clad in a robe and slippers with curlers in her hair, waiting anxiously at the end of the driveway.

"What is it?"  She wanted to know.  But DH just said "You'll see when we get to the cabin," and wouldn't tell her what was waiting that was so important that he'd gotten her out of bed.

When we arrived back at the cabin, you could not see the foxfire because of the headlights on the car.  DH instructed his mother to get out, and after he shut the car off, he lead her over right to the middle of where the wood chips were scattered.  Once the headlights went off, the glow of the foxfire shone out of the darkness.  It was an eerie thing, standing in the middle, looking down at all these small lights, yet feeling like you surely must be looking up into a galaxy of stars because nothing on earth could look like that.

We stayed there, in the foxfire, for a good twenty minutes before driving DH's mom back home to her bed.  In all her life, she had never seen anything like it.  She asked us what it was, how it was made, why it was there.  DH even picked up a piece and handed it to her, the glow now looking like it was levitating as she held it in her hand.  She and I each picked up more pieces, and we waved our arms around while holding those wood chips in our hands, drawing designs in the dark air like little kids playing with sparklers.

Foxfire.  Bio-luminescence.  Glowing fungus.  It makes the old young at heart, and the night seem not so much like a time to be tired.

After taking his mom back to her house, DH and I sat up for several more hours (after two a.m.).  We talked about bio-luminescence (two science nerds, we are!).  We broke one of the wood chips in half and conducted an experiment on how long the fungi needed to be exposed to oxygen before they started to glow (about an hour for the first faint light, two hours and it was nearly half as bright as the surrounding wood that had been chipped out of the tree in the afternoon).  We tried to figure out ways to take a fresh chunk of rotten stump home after the funeral to chip up and show DD1 and DD2 later in the week.  We discussed getting a piece for DS2 to take with him (and chip and glow) on his upcoming road trip back to his college to visit friends and canoe-teammates and Outdoor Adventure Program co-workers at the end of this week (he is on a 6-month co-op assignment and will not be taking fall semester classes).  We even came up with a plan to ship a chunk to South Carolina, to DS1 and K2 and K3 so they could see the foxfire.

But, in the end, it isn't as easy as that.  Foxfire doesn't turn on on demand.  There are a number of conditions that all have to be right at the same time, for the fungi to grow and multiply, and turn on their bio-luminescence.  Temperature, humidity, the dampness of the wood chip, the amount of time exposed to oxygen; those all have to work together, or all you have is a chunk of punky wood and people thinking you've gone off the deep end.

No glow; even the camera, in the dark with the flash turned off, made too much light.
Just looks like a chunk of wood.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Dryer's Got Balls

Felted wool balls, that is.

Maybe you've heard of them.  Popularly referred to as dryer balls by those who use them in place of the more conventional dryer sheets to keep down static when drying laundry by machine.  Supposedly they also cut down the dryer time of a load of laundry (I have noticed this, so feel that it is an accurate claim.)

Maybe you haven't heard of them.  I hadn't, at least not until about a month ago.  I had heard of the plastic nubby balls you put in your dryer for the same purpose.  Last winter I broke down and bought a package of them (two pack, on clearance.)  While I found they did keep the static down pretty good and that I didn't need to use a dryer sheet--or rather, 1/3 of a dryer sheet as I frugally determined a decade and a half ago would do the trick--they didn't last very long.  The first one cracked after only about three months of use.  I kept it going, though, until it finally blew out and came apart in three pieces.  Along about that same time the other one cracked in half approximately 7 months after I'd bought them.

Not very satisfied with this, I went internet searching to see if there was a better way.  And I found it.  Or, at least, I think I have.  Remind me to give you a report next summer and see if my wool dryer balls last longer than the plastic ones did.  From what I've read, I'm pretty sure they will.

You can do your own internet searching for "felted wool dryer balls" and come up with lots of sites that tell you how to make them, or give reviews of ones you can buy ready made on places like etsy.  Most of the sites I visited recommended a minimum of 4 balls per load, up to 7 or 8 depending on what size load and type of fabrics you are drying.

I chose to make my own, and, being without my own abundance of hand wash only wool yarn (since I'm still a newbie knitter and going for the easy wash stuff in my knitting projects), I trolled the clearance area of my local Walmart's craft section and found a couple large skeins of fisherman's wool--with the requisite "hand wash only" label-- on clearance for $5 each.  In the interest of total transparency, I did visit my local Goodwill twice in the two weeks preceding my Walmart purchase, but neither time did Goodwill have any wool yarn, only acrylic, which won't work for this project.

I got almost eight balls out of two skeins of yarn.

Making them was easy.  If you've ever wound a ball of yarn before, you've got all the skills it takes.  To felt the balls, I stuck them in a pair of pantyhose with runs (frugalistas don't use good pantyhose for this!), tying the hose shut after each ball before inserting the next.  Then I tossed the whole lumpy mass into the washer on hot (frugally, with a load of laundry that needed to be washed on hot anyway).  After washing, I put the pantyhose/ball mass, and the load of laundry, into the dryer and dried it all.  I repeated this twice more before releasing the balls from the pantyhose.

Voila!  Dryer Balls!

To store mine when not in use, I employ a cute little basket (which I did find at Goodwill) that sits on top of my dryer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cucumber. . . Bread?

So, now that I have all these too-big-to-pickle cukes, I'm stretching my menu to find ways of using them up.  Yesterday, that meant grabbing a couple of cookbooks and choosing one cucumber recipe out of each of them to try.  The first one was easy, it was a cucumber 'salad' with cukes, sour cream, chives, onion, vinegar, etc.  Some people make this and call it refrigerator pickles.  We don't.  Our fridge pickles are much simpler (see post "Refrigerator Pickles" from August 2012).

The second recipe I chose to try was a bit less conventional.  In fact, I didn't tell the rest of the family what it was until after they'd tasted it.  When it came out of the oven, all nicely browned and smelling delicious, they couldn't wait to eat it.  They just couldn't believe the main ingredient was cucumbers.  It had barely cooled before the first piece was cut and eaten (by DH).

What was it?

"Cucumber Quick Bread"; the recipe came from my copy of Taste of Home's 2000 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes .

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it for yourself.  It makes two loaves, and, as of breakfast this morning, we have less than one loaf left.  It's that good.

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups peeled and seeded cucumbers, grated
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs.  Beat in sugar, cucumbers, oil and vanilla until well blended.  Combine the remaining ingredients; add to cucumber mixture and beat just until combined.  Pour into two greased 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Making bread from overgrown pickling cukes.  Who knew?  ;0)  Wonder what other amazing cucumber recipes I can discover in my stash of cookbooks.

Monday, August 19, 2013

When Cucumbers Go Wild. . .

Subtitled: I Went Out of Town For Four Days, Then When I Got Home It Rained All Day, Then I Was Busy And Forgot To Check The Cucumber Patch For About Three More Days.

And when I did check, this is what I found:

Yes, that odd colored vegetable larger than my hand is a cucumber.  A pickling cucumber, to be precise.  Not green, and not pickle sized any longer.  Nope, it is an overgrown, golden yellow, thing.  All because first I was gone from home, then God provided a good inch or more of water in a 24-hour period and then I didn't get out to the garden and check on the progress of my pickling cukes until they were way past the stage where they are usable.  A good hundred or more "baby dills", wasted.

Gardener FAIL!

Sick at heart, I pulled off all those yellow monster cukes.  The ones that were still greenish, I put into a large basket.  And then another.  The golden ones I left in a pile at the edge of the garden.

The greenish (and a few actually still green) ones I took to the house.  Where we immediately made several batches of refrigerator pickles, as well as ate cucumbers for snacks.  Then I made a couple canner loads of hamburger dills.

Then we gave away a dozen or so big cukes to DH's sister.  Then DS2 came to visit for the weekend, and we gave him another dozen or so to take home and eat.  Then I made a batch of gazpacho (which uses cukes) to have for dinner with the BLTs I had on the menu.  And I still have a basket of cukes as wide as my dishwasher left.

There is also the matter of all the completely yellow cukes.  Some went to the chickens, who will eat overgrown cucumbers as long as I crack them open first.  Some went to the woods, to the critters that live there.  (Do deer like yellow cucumbers?  Let's conduct an experiment!)  Some reside in my garage, their fate as of yet undetermined.

The moral of the story:  Don't forget to check your cucumber patch regularly.  Especially after a good amount of rain!

Second moral of the story:  Don't be afraid to be creative with overgrown cucumbers.  If they aren't totally yellow, they are still edible, just not as little pickles!  

Third moral of the story:  Don't forget that livestock are good means of disposing of veggies gone wild. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Confession: I Bought Cereal

Long time readers of this little place here might remember that I posted, way, way back when I first started this blog in 2011, that I don't buy cereal.  I don't buy it because for years I have made granola and that is what we eat instead.  

Why granola and not cereal?  Well, granola I can control the ingredients of.  It's pretty simple, no long multi-syllable words that take some major brain power to figure out how to pronounce. No preservatives to mess with DS2's asthma and eczema, either. It is also cheaper to make granola than to buy a box of cereal.  Especially when you have four growing kids who can make a big box of cereal disappear in one sitting.

Today I discovered two more reasons why I will keep making granola and eschewing cereal.

Reason #1:  Cereal, even the "healthy" multi-grain kind, is too sweet for my palate any more.  This is the stuff I used to eat back in the 1990's that tasted bland compared to the sugary cereals marketed to kids.

Reason #2:  Even a larger than serving-size bowl (according to the serving size listed on the box) left me feeling less than sated.  An hour and a half later found me digging into a small bowl of granola because I was still hungry.

I'm pretty much bashing all cereal here, not the particular brand I ate this morning, so I won't give the name of the cereal or the company that makes it.  I just won't ever give in to mommy guilt again when my daughters say "Mom, why don't you ever buy us cereal?"

Because that is how this particular box of cereal came to be in my house and on my table this morning for breakfast; my 15yo looked at me with big sad eyes in the grocery store and said "I haven't eaten cereal at home since I was in Kindergarten, only at other people's houses."  (She starts her Junior year of high school next month) "Mom, why don't you ever buy us cereal?"

So, I caved, but only slightly.  I bought a box of supposedly healthy cereal versus a box of highly colored shapes drenched in sweeteners and chemicals.

But you know what?  That 'healthy' cereal hit my tongue this morning and my first impression was "eww, too sweet!".  I read the list of ingredients again, even though I'd skimmed through it at the store before even putting the box in my shopping cart.  Whole grain #1, Whole grain #2, Sugar, Whole grain #3, Whole grain #4, Whole grain #5, Corn Starch, Brown Sugar Syrup. . . the list went on for about six more ingredients including one listed vaguely as "Color Added".  "Color Added"?  What the heck is that?!?  The cereal is beige.  What color was added?

But I digress.  Back to the issue of being too sweet. . .

Hmm.  Now, the labeling law requires that ingredients be listed by quantity, the largest amount ingredient first and smallest amount last.  Which means that sugar is a larger percentage of this cereal than Whole Grains Number 3, 4, and 5 are.  At the very least, sugar is equal to those and the equal amount ingredients are listed in random order.  But, given that this is supposedly a healthy cereal I'm thinking the marketing department would not have listed sugar ahead of a healthier ingredient (like Whole Grain #3 for instance, or #4, or #5) if they were of the same quantity in the recipe.

And then after those three whole grains, brown sugar syrup--more sugar!  In my granola recipe, brown sugar and honey are the sweeteners and they are only more plentiful than the water and the vanilla in the recipe.  All the seeds (sesame and sunflower) and the coconut is equal in quantity to both the honey and the brown sugar.  The nuts are double the amount, and the oats are 12x the amount!

Yeah, I'm sticking with my granola.

When I had finished that bowl of cereal (much too quickly according to my stomach which was saying "hey, wait a minute, that was a pretty chintzy breakfast!"), I was left with about 1/2 a bowl of milk.  Huh, what?  When I eat my granola and get to the end of the granola, I'm also at the end of the milk.  It just kind of magically absorbs as I eat, not making the granola dissolve into mush, but not being left behind in the bowl either.  Not wanting to waste the milk (especially because it was raw milk I had gotten my hands on in a roundabout way, shhhhhh), I drank it straight from the bowl.

Ewwww!!!  Sugary milk!  Ugh!  My awesome contraband milk was tainted with sweeteners!  Also something that never happens when I eat granola instead of cereal.

Yeah, I'm definitely sticking with my granola!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Just a Few Pictures

Cows out!
The other day I was leaving home and about 1/8 mile down the road I saw several people standing in the road, waving their arms.  So I slowed down, way, way down.  Stopped, actually, when I saw two more people and about 8 cows come out of the cornfield to the left.  The cows, Holstein steers, had gotten loose from the neighbor's pasture about 1/2 mile south of me.  I ended up idling down the road well behind them, for about 5 minutes until the cattle docilely headed back to their pasture.  Unfortunately my cell phone camera didn't really pick up the cows, the spots in the road up ahead are them, plus two people herding them.

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly
I found this one while weeding the garden last week.  It seemed very drowsy, so much so that I was able to pick it up and take it's picture!

My rooster, Animal.
So named because of his abundant shaggy red hackles, reminding me of Animal from the Muppets.

This is what happens when you decided to make biscuits using the ring from a Tupperware hamburger press as a biscuit cutter! Biscuits as big as my hand! Split open and served with venison stew meat simmered into a rich gravy, one is all you need to be full.  

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Why yes, yes she can!

The first raspberry off the canes I planted this spring.  It was delicious.

Look, a real zucchini!
Planted 2 hills round zucchini and I'm swimming in them.  Planted 4 hills 'real' zucchini and I have one, so far.  Still trying to figure out why real zucchini don't like my soil.  I'm also swimming in yellow summer squash, which are zucchini siblings.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Free" Way to Kill Weeds

During canning season, I have an abundance of free weed killer.

Okay, be honest, how many of you just read that sentence and went "Huh?"

What in the world does weed killer, let alone free weed killer, have to do with canning?


You see, boiling hot water poured onto weeds kills them.  Cooks them, if you want to be technical about it.  So all those tough ones that don't want to pull from between the paving blocks on my patio or sidewalk, I douse those with water from the canner once I'm done with it for the day.  It's water that was going to get poured down the drain anyway (it is also good for degreasing/opening up your drains, but you're not going to get the drain much more open with the third or fifth or tenth batch of boiling water than you did with the first).

So, why not carry it outside and cook some weeds?

In the beginning. . .

one minute after applying boiling water. . .

five minutes after applying water--cooked!

Not only is this "free" weed killer, but it is also totally non-toxic!  You don't have to worry about stepping in it and then walking on your lawn, accidentally spreading the death to things you do want to keep alive!  No residue, just water.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Aaaaannnnndddd. . . . Beets!

This week I've spent quite a bit of time working with beets.  I like beets.  So I planted two long rows of them in the garden.

In the past I've had mixed results growing beets:

  • Sometimes it gets too hot and dry too quick and they don't sprout.
  • Sometimes they sprout, but then get eaten by woodchucks and other nocturnal garden raiders before they grow round.
  • Sometimes they get eaten from below by voles, so that when I go to harvest what I think is a nice 2" or 3" round beet all I get is a leafy top with 1/4" of hollowed out root.

Hence, two full rows of beets just for me.

Well, guess what--this year nothing ate my beets!  So they are all for me!  All 100+ of the round red things.  Or maybe it's 200+.  I don't remember how long, exactly, the rows are.  I do remember planting the beets out at 4" intervals.  So, if the row is 25 feet, that gives me about 75 beets per row.  And if the rows are 35 feet (I'm thinking they are closer to 40 than 30), that gives me 105 beets per row.

Anyway, I suddenly have a bumper crop of beets.  So, in between all the other daily happenings and the Wednesday baking and Thursday farmers' market, I have been putting up beets.  Pickled beets.  Non-pickled beets.  Lots of jars to wash, lots beets to cook and slice. Running the water bath canner.   Running the pressure canner (and babysitting it while it processes, because I really don't want it to blow up and spew beets all over my kitchen).

It's worth it, though.  Worth it when I see all those pretty magenta colored jars lined up in the cellar.  Worth it every time, all during the year, when I open a jar and heat them up to go with dinner. Or for lunch; beets are good for lunch too. Sometimes I just eat vegetables for lunch.  They are very filling if you eat enough of them  :0)

Beets are incredibly simple to can.  Plain old beets, the non-pickled kind, require just three ingredients (beets, salt, water) and a pressure canner.  Basically you cook your beets, remove the skins, slice or quarter (or leave whole if they are small enough), and pack them in jars.  For each pint of beets add 1/2 tsp canning salt and top off with boiling water, leaving one inch of head space.  Put the lids and rings on your jars, put them in your pressure canner, and following your canner's directions, process at 10 pounds pressure for 30 minutes.

Done!  You now have beets.

If you want pickled beets, they take a bit more work, but only because you need to add spices to your water before boiling it and adding it to your jars with the cooked beets.  Pickled beets need 2 cups sugar, 2 sticks cinnamon (sticks, not ground), 1 tablespoon whole all spice, 1 1/2 teaspoons canning salt, 3 1/2 cups vinegar and 1 1/2 cups water for each 6 pints of beets.  Put the sugar, spices, salt, vinegar, and water into a pot and simmer for 15 minutes before adding this liquid to the jars of beets.  From there, put on the lids and rings and process in a water bath canner 30 minutes.