Thursday, July 1, 2010

Adventures in Canning and some Psycho Babble

Being unemployed definately has its perks.  Aside from the lack of $$, I get to do things I have always wanted to do, and never had the time.   For instance last week, I snapped a couple of pounds of snap beans and cooked them with potato's in some nice fat bacon side meat, I borrowed,  (it's not really borrowing if you have no intention of returning it, is it?) and while I was snapping, I kept thinking,  this is me.  This is who I am.  This is the authentic me.  This is what I love doing.  Simple things that soothe the soul.  I guess I got caught up in the rat race, and you just push aside all those things, that make you happy and you just......exist.  Ok so enough of the psycho babble. 
I got to spend the day with Nana, canning her famous sweet pickles.  I can't hardly cook without them.  Ham Salad, Deviled Eggs, Tuna Salad, I wouldn't even bother making them if I didn't have her pickles.  It turns out Nana is a very good teacher.  She told me step by step what she was doing and why, and some things she said, I do this because this is the way my Mama did it.  I was totally afraid,   then she said, here you do this one, so I did. Then I said, here, you do the rest, then the phone rang and I just proceeded.  It's a fairly simple process, but it is time consuming and as Nana says "It's Hot work"  and that it is.  Standing by a boiling pot at the stove is definately hot work.  So I felt adventurous and got some stuff do can on my own.  I made Pepper Jelly and Strawberry Jam.  Definately more Hot work.  I had a little snafu with both of them.  The Strawberry Jam didn't set as well as it could.  This is totally my fault as I used a pan that was not quite big enough so when it came to a full rolling boil if I didn't keep stirring it was going to bubble over, so I squeezed the Certo out with my left hand and thought it was all in, but later I realized I had not gotten it all out, at all........ hence super sloppy jam that tastes awesome.  The Pepper Jelly, I didn't chop up the peppers fine enough.  So then I decided I should strain it out, then hubby comes along and says it's supposed to have some in, so I put a little in each jar and it's too big, and it all floated to the top.  What's up with that.  All my jars pinged after their hot water baths so now I am hooked.  I am searching for recipes and want to can everything I see. 
I had lunch with Donna, who had canned peaches last year, and she said she didn't use the hot water bath but turned all the jars upside down.  I had never heard of this, but I found it online and they said it's not a sanitary method for canning.  But I ate a jar of her jam and it was fine some 6 months later.  I am afraid to poison folks which is why I was afraid to can to start with. So I took the safe route.  And as it happened I had a canner with a rack in it, in  my attic.  I am pretty sure it was my Great Aunt Frances' who has been gone many many years.  She used to make amazing food.  Chow Chow and Cherry Preserves.  And Fruit Cake with a whiskey soaked piece of cheese cloth wrapped around it.  And I remember her back screened porch with boxes full of apples from her apple tree out back.  Little green apples with little black spots on them.  And her pantry in the kitchen.  See this really is who I am.  It's in my blood.  =)


Ta Da!!!!!

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